Thursday, May 7, 2009

These times are the best times in our school library. Our current and last school theme, We share stories of the world, can be any librarian’s favorite, and every year I look forward to using the globe to take off in any direction with the students and reading different world stories. This week, all third graders and I departed on an imaginary plane from Chicago O'Hare and went south, south, south to that thin long country called Chile. I briefly spoke about the Mapuche, went over some words everyone reading the story should know (ruca, machi, huemul, araucaria), and proceeded to read the story. As I read La niña de la calavera, I could see in the students’ eyes how they were getting more and more in to the story. This happened with each of the four classes that listened to the story, a good sign in any book that is read aloud.

Click on the previous link (La niña de la calavera) to listen to a retelling of the story.

La niña de la calavera is the story of a beautiful girl who has many suitors and a jealous stepmother. Does this sound familiar? The girl has found a lad she loves and will be getting married. However, the stepmother is very jealous and gets a potion that when spread over the girl’s face, turns it into a skull. When the girl’s suitor sees her skull face, he screams and goes away. The girl is now too ashamed to live with her family, so she goes to the woods and lives there. One day, she finds an ant, whose leg is caught between two stones. The girl helps the ant, and the ant helps the girl in return. The same happens with a huemul and a puma, breaking the spell eventually and the girl finding a lad and living happily ever after.

The story has all the ingredients of a fairy tale, but that is not all. Elements of Mapuche culture are woven throughout, some of which will be questioned by older students. Open up the conversation, and if you don’t know details, get students to search and find the answers to their questions.

As far as our school, our students can’t wait for me to catalog the book so they can check it out.

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