Written by Victor Montejo
Illustrated by Luis Garay
Translated by David Unger
Publication Date March 01, 2009
Mayan civilization once flourished in what is today Guatemala and the Yucatan. A distinguishing characteristic of this civilization was its highly developed written language, advanced astronomy and its very sophisticated mathematical system, which included the use of zero. As a result, Mayan history was not only written down, but was dated accurately.
In Guatemala in 1558, a young Mayan K'iche' man, who had learned to write the K'iche' language in Latin characters, transcribed what he described as a sacred book that "we can no longer see." This was the Popol Vuh. What he gave us was a written account of the creation of the universe, the gods and demi-gods in that universe, and the story of how man was created by them. Furthermore it traced the lineage of the Mayan lords. This beautifully illustrated version of the Popol Vuh allows young readers to discover one of the most ancient literary works of the Americas.
Selected for the Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice 2000
Victor Montejo is a distinguished Jakaltek Maya / Guatemalan anthropologist, author and professor in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis who, after a very long period in exile, returned for a time to Guatemala to work for indigenous rights. He has also written White Flower: A Maya Princess / Blanca Flor: una princesa Maya for Groundwood. He lives in Davis, California.
Luis Garay is a celebrated Nicaraguan illustrator who spent six months in Guatemala doing research for the illustrations in this book. He has also illustrated Jade and Iron, A Handful of Seeds, Cousins / Primas and Alfredito Flies Home / Alfredito regresa volando a su casa. One of the best young Latin American illustrators working today, Luis Garay now lives in Mexico.
David Unger received Guatemala’s 2014 Miguel Angel Asturias National Prize in Literature for lifetime achievement, though he writes exclusively in English and lives in the US. The Mastermind (Akashic Books, 2016), his latest novel, has been translated into Spanish, Arabic and Italian. In 2011 he published The Price of Escape (Akashic Books) and Para Mi, Eres Divina (Random House Mondadori, Mexico). Other books include Ni chicha, ni limonada (F y G Editores, 2009) and Life in the Damn Tropics (Wisconsin University Press, 2004). His short stories and essays have appeared in Delta de las arenas: cuentos árabes, cuentos judíos (Literal Publishers, 2013), Puertos Abiertos (FCE, 2011), Guernica Magazine (February 2016, April 2011, November 2007 and August 2006) and Playboy Mexico (October 2005). He has translated 14 titles including Popol Vuh, Guatemala’s pre-Columbian creation myth, and the work of Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala), Silvia Molina (Mexico), Nicanor Parra (Chile), Teresa Cárdenas (Cuba) and Mario Benedetti (Uruguay), among others.
"[Popol Vuh] contains a rich array of creation myth, pourquoi stories, and trixster tales...Dramatically lit paintings by Luis Garay will engage curiosity..." Horn Book
"A beautifully designed book to be savored on its own or as a source for cultural or comparative studies." School Library Journal