cover image The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2130-4

Tonatiuh (Funny Bones) retells a Mesoamerican legend about a pair of volcanoes that can be seen from Mexico City. Iztaccíhuatl looks like a sleeping woman, while Popocatépetl is said to be the form of a warrior who guards her. In Tonatiuh’s story, Popoca is a suitor who sees past the princess Izta’s mesmerizing beauty: “If you marry me, I promise that I will love you for who you are,” he vows. “I will stay by your side no matter what.” Izta’s father promises her to Popoca if the warrior can defeat Jaguar Claw, the kingdom’s sworn enemy. But a messenger from Jaguar Claw lies to Izta, telling her that Popoca has been defeated and offering her a potion to console her. She never wakes up. Popoca keeps his promise never to leave her, and the two are shown frozen under a mantle of snow. Tonatiuh’s squat, stylized characters are modeled on those in ancient Mixtec codices, and their jewelry, weapons, and architecture all bear inspection and discussion. Sensitive readers may be dismayed by the grim ending, but it’s a skillfully crafted recounting of a somber tale of love and devotion. Ages 6–9. (Oct.)