The Ugly One
Leanne Statland Ellis, 2013, AGES 8–12
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (2015)
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Summary: At the height of the Incan empire, a girl called "The Ugly One" because of a disfiguring scar on her face seeks to have the scar removed and instead finds a life path as a shaman.
"[A] Quiet, deeply moving story." —The Bulletin
Publishers Weekly: Inspired by the author's travels to Peru, Ellis's coming-of-age tale follows the small but significant story of 12-year-old Incan girl named Micay, who is shunned by her community because of "the deep scar that ran like a river from my right eye down my cheek to my lip and lowered my mouth in a permanent half frown." That changes, however, when a "jungle stranger" comes to town and gives her a scruffy baby macaw named Sumac Huanacauri ("Handsome Rainbow"), who protects her from her tormentor Ucho's cruelty and teaches her to free herself from doubt, as well as accept that she may be destined for a greater purpose. Micay leaves her "wasi" (one-room home) to explore and study with Paqo, a "mighty shaman" from Cuzco. Micay's intimate narration weaves in Quechua vocabulary and abundant references to Incan folklore, enhancing the novel's vivid sense of time and place. Despite the element of shamanism and Micay's communication with spirits, her transformation is subtle and pragmatic as she evolves from fearful outsider to empowered individual. Ages 9–12.
Booklist: Forced to live with a horrible scar from her eyebrow to her lip, Micay does not remember a time when she was not the Ugly One. But when she is 12, a yunka stranger arrives in her small village and presents her with a gift, a baby macaw she calls Sumac Huanacauri, or Handsome Rainbow. As the girl and the bird bond, the bird perches himself on her right shoulder, thus covering the scarred portion of her face. He also takes her to the Paqo, the village seer and healer, whose apprentice she becomes. Thus begins a process and journey that eventually takes her to the Sacred Sun City, Machu Picchu, and her destiny. Ellis introduces readers to the Incan culture and myths through Micay’s lessons in healing, Uncle Turu’s stories, and her people’s struggle through a horrible drought that threatens their very survival. Just as Uncle Turu’s stories hold special truths concealed as fables, this quiet, deeply moving story reminds readers of the true nature of beauty. Grades 4–8.
Katacha Diaz, illus. Gredna Landolt, 2002, AGES 5–8
Publisher: Soundprint, 2002, 2011
Format: Paperback, 32 pages
Summary: Carolina lives in a village up in the Andes Mountains. Today she and her mother are traveling into town to find a birthday gift for Carolina's grandmother. There are so many things to see and so many gifts to choose from! Children will follow Carolina through her new experience. Carolina's Gift gives readers a fun and unique insight of a different culture, and a sense what life might be like for a child growing up in mountain village of Peru.
Booklist: Carolina hopes to find a birthday present at the market for her grandmother. After looking in all the stalls, she and her mother find the perfect gift—a carved walking stick, so Abuelita can accompany them to the market the next time they go. This simple story is a vehicle for introducing Spanish words and showing a marketplace in Peru that the author once visited. Back matter includes a map, information on the market, and translations of 10 Spanish words used in the text. … pleasant, color-saturated illustrations incorporate textile patterns and clothing. … good supplemental material for elementary-level social studies.