20 Aug / Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua by Gloria Amescua, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh [in Shelf Awareness]
Educator and poet Gloria Amescua makes her picture-book debut with the inspiring Child of the Flower-Song People, spectacularly illustrated by award-winning Mexican American author/artist Duncan Tonatiuh (Undocumented). Amescua poignantly uses her own experiences of “almost losing my Spanish language and culture” as a Latina in Texas as her inspiration for documenting and celebrating Luz Jiménez’s story.
Throughout Mexico, Luz is revered as “a powerful woman of the flower-song people” – the Nahua who were direct descendants of the native Aztecs. Born in 1897, Luz grew up speaking Nahuatl, learning traditional cooking and weaving, and absorbing ancient tales. Her village was mostly “a forgotten shadow to those who governed,” until mandatory public education arrived to silence the Nahuatl language and ban Nahua clothing, in order “to turn the native children into modern ones.” Then the Mexican Revolution destroyed Luz’s home, leaving her family fatherless. Fleeing to Mexico City, Luz quickly became “the most well-known model in all of Mexico,” galvanizing artists who eschewed colonial erasure: “The world recognized the beauty and strength of the native people after five hundred years of being in shadows.” From model to teacher, Luz channeled her artistic influence into preserving her language, traditions, and history.
Amescua enhances her flowing prose with natural imagery (mountains, winds, blossoms), as if Amescua is re-grounding Luz’s Nahua identity into the very earth. Tonatiuh’s magnificent signature style – a hand-drawn and digitally colored contemporary adaptation of pre-Columbian art forms – couldn’t be more ideal for animating Amescua’s illuminating text, which also includes extensive backmatter to encourage further investigation. This perfectly paired collaboration provides both reclamation and revelation.
Discover: This powerful picture book illuminates the inspiring life of Indigenous Mexican icon Luz Jiménez, who refused to be erased by colonialism.