From the author of Tomás and the Library Lady, an amazing, true story about the quest for knowledge that inspired one of Mexico’s most famous and beloved poets, Sor Juana Inés.
Juana Inés was just a little girl in a village in Mexico when she decided that the thing she wanted most in the world was her very own collection of books, just like in her grandfather’s library. When she found out that she could learn to read in school, she begged to go. And when she later discovered that only boys could attend university, she dressed like a boy to show her determination to attend. Word of her great intelligence soon spread, and eventually, Juana Inés was considered one of the best scholars in the Americas–something unheard of for a woman in the 17th century.
Today, this important poet is revered throughout the world and her verse is memorized by schoolchildren all over Mexico.
Mora (Tomas and the Library Lady) concisely traces the rise of spirited Juana Ines from inquisitive youngster to a 17th-century Mexican scholar. Insatiably curious Juana, age three, follows her older sister to school and asks to join the class. Mora laces her narrative with lively anecdotes, as when the determined Juana shows up for dinner dressed as a boy after her mother announces that only boys can attend university. At 10, the girl's mother sends her to live with family in Mexico City, and by age 15, Juana takes up residence in the viceroy's palace there, as a lady-in-waiting. Vidal's (Rainbow Crow) meticulously detailed, small-scale watercolor-and-gouache art details the bustling city as well as the finery of the palatial residence, where Juana immerses herself in the library and becomes an accomplished writer of poems, plays and songs. A standout spread shows Juana flanked by 40 scholars assembled by the viceroy at a giant round table; small insets depict the topics of their quiz (a harp, a caduceus, the planets in orbit around the sun). The narrative, unfortunately, appears in an uncommonly small font, but this story of persistence and pioneering will inspire youngsters. Even with the book's rather abrupt ending, the heroine's journey, coupled with Vidal's depiction of expressive faces and lovely renderings of flowers that spill from the borders of the pictures make for a memorable volume. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)