cover image The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico

The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico

Nina Jaffe. Simon & Schuster, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80469-4

Make room on the folktale shelf for this arresting adaptation of a Taino myth from Puerto Rico. Jaffe (In the Month of Kislev; The Uninvited Guest) spins a colorful story about the coming of water to the desert lands that once made up the earth. And if her prose contains an element of magic, the artwork is full-strength bewitching. Sanchez (Abuela's Weave) produces his best work to date. His patchwork vision of an arid desert is a kaleidoscopic landscape of many colors: burnt sienna, amber, mauve, tones highlighted by spirals of light circling down from a dazzling sun. In this desert, a child finds a seed, and another, and plants his collection on a mountaintop. A forest grows, a lush jungle with a beautiful flower and a great golden ball at its center. This shimmering globe becomes an object of scrutiny--of fear and desire--until two men fight over it and the pumpkin, for that is what the globe proves to be, bursts open, letting forth the ocean. The art sings with joy: swirls painted amidst the thick vegetation, on the chests of the stocky Taino people; a face is carved into the sides of a mountain. This simply told tale reverberates with rich layers of meaning, promising fertility and life even in the driest desert. Ages 4-8. (June)