By Linda Elovitz Marshall
Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
- Age Range: 4 - 8 years
- Grade Level: 1 - 4
- Publisher: Children's Book Press (October 15, 2016)
- Language: English/ Spanish
- ISBN-10: 0892393742
- ISBN-13: 978-0892393749
Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for the market. If the weavings sell at a good price, they will have money to pay for Ixchel’s school and books. And besides, there is not enough extra thread for Ixchel to practice with.
Disappointed, Ixchel first tries weaving with blades of grass, and then with bits of wool, but no one would want to buy the results. As she walks around her village, Ixchel finds it littered with colorful plastic bags. There is nowhere to put all the bags, so they just keep accumulating.
Suddenly, Ixchel has an idea! She collects and washes the plastic bags. Then she cuts each bag into thin strips. Sitting at her loom, Ixchel weaves the plastic strips into a colorful fabric that looks like a beautiful rainbow—just like the weavings of Mayan women before her.
LINDA ELOVITZ MARSHALL grew up near Boston, graduated from Barnard College, and raised four children and a flock of sheep on a farm in the Hudson Valley of New York. She is the author of several books for young readers and was inspired to write this story by dear friends and founders of Mayan Hands, an organization of weavers in Guatemala. Marshall liveswith her family in Selkirk, New York.
ELISA CHAVARRI is a full-time illustrator who graduated with honors from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she majored in Classical Animation and minored in Comics. Born in Peru, she now lives with her husband and their daughter, cat, and dog in northernMichigan.
chel has an idea! She collects and washes the plastic bags. Then she cuts each bag into thin strips. Sitting at her loom, Ixchel weaves the plastic strips into a colorful fabric that looks like a beautiful rainbow just like the weavings of Mayan women before her.
A Guatemalan girl named Ixchel longs to learn how to weave like her mother and the other women in their community, but her mother tells her that she is too young and that there isn’t enough thread. Searching for alternative weaving materials, Ixchel collects the plastic bags that litter the countryside, tearing them into strips and using them on her homemade loom—while also leaving her village looking cleaner. Chavarri incorporates bright splashes of color into her expressive illustrations, which emphasize Ixchel’s innovation and pride. An author’s note describes the real-life story that inspired Marshall’s fiction, an inspiring example of ingenuity, dedication, and small actions with big results. -Publishers Weekly
Fans of Omar S. Castañeda’s Abuela’s Weave will enjoy this lovely selection about perseverance, community, and the ancient Mayan art of weaving. In order to earn money at the market, the women in young Ixchel’s Guatemalan village “weave thread into fabric as beautiful as a rainbow.” The girl desperately wants to learn and participate in this traditional art, but her mother gently refuses. Mama tells her that the money she earns from the cloth will be used to purchase books and fund an education for Ixchel. The cloth must be eye-catching in order to earn a good price. Ixchel is disappointed but determined to help and soon comes up with a creative way to clean up her village and weave a unique type of cloth. Vibrant illustrations bring the story to life and provide readers with a glimpse of indigenous Guatemalan culture. The images could also be used during a discussion about facial expressions and how they communicate emotions. The English and Spanish texts are clearly delineated. The author incorporates several words in Kaqchikel, one of the Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala. A glossary and pronunciation guide are provided at the beginning of the volume. A detailed author’s note at the narrative’s conclusion explains the inspiration for this tale. Pair this with a simple weaving project and some primary source photographs. VERDICT An uplifting offering that would be a wonderful addition to picture book collections and STEAM programs. -School Library Journal
Ixchel wants to help her mother weave so that she can pay for her school fees. Because there isn’t enough thread available, Ixchel must find alternative materials if she wishes to make weavings to sell at the market. Set in Guatemala and based on Mayan women’s resourcefulness and the tradition of weaving, Marshall’s bilingual story tells how Ixchel uses plastic bags littered in her community to create beautiful, rainbow-colored weavings. Although Marshall relies on the monolithic term Mayan to describe Ixchel’s background, the glossary/pronunciation guide provided at the beginning of the book identifies the Mayan language used briefly in the text as Kaqchikel. Chavarri’s illustrations bring the story to life, incorporating vibrant colors and intricate patterns into the characters’ clothes and weavings in a way that allows young readers to see how the amazing tradition of weaving is passed on from generation to generation. A cheerful tale of innovation with strong multicultural ties. For another story on weaving in Guatemala, see Abuela’s Weave (1995), by Omar S. Catañeda. -Booklist