Jan 3, 2012

The Secret Footprints

The Secret Footprints by Julia Alvarez
Illustrated by Fabian Negrin
Published by Dell Dragonfly Books

     On an island in the Caribbean, not too long ago, lived a secret tribe called the ciguapas.  They lived underwater and came out to hunt for food only at night. They were all beautiful women, fearful of being discovered by the humans who, they believed, would imprison them and force them to live on land.  The ciguapas looked just like us except that their feet were pointed backwards.  That's what helped them protect the secret of their existence, because their footprints always seemed to point in the opposite direction when they walked on land.
     The Secret Footprints tells the story of guapa, on the ciguapas. Guapa (which means beautiful and brave in Spanish) was very curious and, against the advice of the queen ciguapa, she kept venturing inland to observe the humans. One day, following the smell of delicious pasteles, she gets too close and was seen by a family having a picnic. Guapa has to find a way to protect the secret of her tribe.
     The Secret Footprints is beautifully written by Julia Alvarez and Negrin's illustrations full of blues, aquamarines, and the warm tones of the Caribbean, are a wonderful match.  At the end of the tale, Alvarez adds an author note describing the Dominican folklore around the ciguapas.  A great read-aloud to bring some magical realism into the classroom or home.

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