By Carolyn Marsden
Candlewick Press • 2011 • 224 pages
Ages 10 and up
At the center of this well-written novel is nine-year old Rosalba, a Mayan girl who lives with her family in a remote Mexican village, keeping the customs of their ancestors—a life respectful of nature and all that the Earthlord has created. One day, Rosalba meets Alicia, a ladina girl from the city who is visiting the area with her scientist father, and the two become friends. Alicia tells Rosalba about frogs dying because of the influence of man on the environment, and most alarmingly, about a Mayan prophecy that predicts the end of the world in 2012.
Interwoven in the plot is the story of a young Mayan priest named Xunko that takes place 600 years earlier. In visions, Xunko foresees the end of the world if nothing is done to prevent it. Both stories converge as Rosalba and Alicia learn of a new road that will be built near the village that threatens the animals and their cornfields. In a dream, Xunko helps Rosalba decide on the best course of action to take.
With a rich, multi-layered plot that involves friendship, cross-cultural encounters, coming-of age decisions and current environmental issues, this is nonetheless an easy to read novel. The book includes a glossary and an author’s note on the history that inspired it.
—Reviewed by Maria Mena, Youth Services Librarian, Albany, NY