Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Children's Book Review: The Secret Footprints

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Secret Footprints
Author: Julia Alvarez
Illustrator: Fabian Negrin
Publisher: Dragonfly Books
Pages: Paperback; 40
Release Date: September 10, 2002
Source: School Library
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy reading myths and legends.

Difficulty Level: Readers nearing the Middle Grade mark will be able to read this alone. Also good as a parent to child read. 

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Ciguapas are a secret tribe of beautiful people who live underwater in "cool blue caves hung with seashells and seaweed." Avoiding humans at all costs, they come out to hunt for food only at night. But the most remarkable thing about the ciguapas is that their feet are on backward. Walking on land, their footprints lead in the opposite direction. This helps them keep the secret of their existence from humans, who, they believe, would cage them and force them to "take baths and do laundry and wash your hands before meals." But once upon a time, a brave, bold, bright-eyed--and curious--ciguapa named Guapa almost made real her people's worst fears. Straying too close to a human home one night, Guapa is discovered by a young boy. Escaping, she vows to be more careful. But her curiosity is stronger than her word, and soon she finds herself in the hands of a surprisingly kind human family.

Apparently this story originates in the Dominican Republic, and I cannot say enough how beautifully written it really is. No matter how well the book is written however, it is the pictures that go along with this story that really make it shine! The ciguapas are said to have their feet on backward, and Negrin really made this stand out with his rich illustrations. The kids were enamored with these mythical creatures from page one.

Guapa is the main character in this story, and she is a young girl in her tribe. What I really loved about Guapa as a main character was that she was so easy for the kids to identify with. It is evident that her decisions in the story are based on her age and lack of experience. She is a young girl, and a curious one at that! Since the kids were so easily able to identify with her, they were able to appreciate the story that much more.

Underneath this story is a message of acceptance and of ignoring stereotypes. Of taking a chance with a new friend, or a new adventure. This book is a very sweet way for kids to be introduced to this old folktale, and perhaps learn a little bit about themselves in the process.

Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart


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