Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua

by Gloria Amescua (Author) Duncan Tonatiuh (Illustrator)

Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Award-winning illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life debut author Gloria Amescua's lyrical biography of an indigenous Nahua woman from Mexico who taught and preserved her people's culture through modeling for famous artists

She was Luz Jiménez,

child of the flower-song people,

the powerful Aztec,

who called themselves Nahua--

who lost their land but who did not disappear.

As a young Nahua girl in Mexico during the early 1900s, Luz learned how to grind corn in a metate, to twist yarn with her toes, and to weave on a loom. By the fire at night, she listened to stories of her community's joys, suffering, and survival, and wove them into her heart.

But when the Mexican Revolution came to her village, Luz and her family were forced to flee and start a new life. In Mexico City, Luz became a model for painters, sculptors, and photographers such as Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and Tina Modotti. These artists were interested in showing the true face of Mexico and not a European version. Through her work, Luz found a way to preserve her people's culture by sharing her native language, stories, and traditions. Soon, scholars came to learn from her.

This moving, beautifully illustrated biography tells the remarkable story of how model and teacher Luz Jiménez became "the soul of Mexico"--a living link between the indigenous Nahua and the rest of the world. Through her deep pride in her roots and her unshakeable spirit, the world came to recognize the beauty and strength of her people.

The book includes an author's note, timeline, glossary, and bibliography.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Luz Jiménez (1897-1965) was a "child of the flower-song people, the powerful Aztecs, who called themselves Nahua--who lost their land, but who did not disappear." Amescua sensitively excavates the compelling story of the woman known as "the spirit of Mexico" through her appearance in works by artists including Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and Tina Mondotti. Jiménez is portrayed as a curious, ambitious person who, from a young age, treasured her heritage and was determined to preserve her threatened culture despite hardship, discrimination, and colonialism. Though her dream of teaching children is thwarted, her work as a model creates opportunities to connect with scholars: "So Luz at last became a teacher, weaving the threads of her flower-song, xochicuicatl--her language and culture--into their hearts." Tonatiuh's hand-drawn, digitally collaged images mix motifs from Indigenous Mexican art with modern textures, celebrating the endurance and resilience of treasured traditions in a changing world. Ages 6-10. (Aug.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Amescua succeeds in introducing Luz. . .Closely following the text, the illustrations bring Luz to life. An important window into the ravages of colonialism and the plight of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico." — "Kirkus Reviews"
Gloria Amescua
Gloria Amescua is an educator, poet, and children's book writer. She was awarded Lee & Low's 2016 New Voices Honor Award for her manuscript about Luz Jiménez and was named a finalist for the Austin Chapter Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentorship Award and We Need Diverse Books' Mentorship program. This is her debut picture book. Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His books have received many awards over the years. He currently lives in San Miguel with his wife and children but travels to the United States often.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2021
Pura Belpré Youth Award
Honor Book 2022
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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