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.
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.