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The Story of Colors / La Historia de los Colores: A Bilingual Folktale from the Jungles of Chiapas (English and Spanish Edition) Hardcover – May 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press; Bilingual edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0938317458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938317456
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.3 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Were it not for the fame showered upon this title in the wake of the NEA's retraction of funding for it, this Mexican folktale by a Zapatista leader would probably have attracted little attention: its greatest merit, Dom!nguez's vibrantly original art, is subverted by a badly flawed design. The bilingual text is digressive and rough, as if transcribed from an oral telling, and it presumes some common ground that will likely be absent for American readers ("The gods were fighting.... They were very quarrelsome, these gods, not like the first ones, the seven gods who gave birth to the world, the very first ones"). Purporting to tell how the gods created colors, the story tacks on a message about tolerance, equating different colors with different ways of thinking. The art, meanwhile, is full of life, a heady mix of folkloric motifs and a contemporary intensity. Dom!nguez's totemic figures crowd her canvases as if they were performing in a theater, their gestures and poses dramatic and commanding; and her fittingly colorful backgrounds are boldly and kinetically patterned. But the glossy paper flattens the rich, textured surfaces of the paintings; the three-quarter-page reproductions compete with different-colored blocks of text for readers' attention; and an unvaried, static layout discourages close perusal. Readers interested in the controversies surrounding the title will soak up the political commentary on the jacket flaps, which also include a photo of the guerrilla authorAa masked figure garlanded with bandoliers of bullets. All ages.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

K Up-Employing elements of both fable and indigenous pourquoi tale, this story explains the origin of colors in the world and how the macaw acquired his bright plumage. Old Antonio relates that the gods, bored with black and white, go out into the world and collect colors-red from blood, yellow from a child's laughter, etc. The colors combine and make more colors. The gods, needing a place to keep them safe, spot the macaw, and decide on his feathers. And so the bird goes "strutting about just in case men and women forget how many colors there are and how many ways of thinking, and that the world will be happy if all the colors and ways of thinking have their place." The text, colloquial and rolling in both Spanish and English, has rhythm, motion, and a sense of authenticity. Dom!nguez's primitive forms have volume and solidity, along with a kinetic energy that gives them the sense of movement. The figures, structured on a line as pure as that of Picasso, carry the action in the black-and-white sections, but the colors as they are introduced are vibrant and fresh as if they had, indeed, just been found, newly minted. The meld of artwork and text is flawless. This said, some caveats are in order. There are several lovely, natural references to lovemaking, and the accompanying illustration shows a woman and a male god in an unmistakably sexual embrace. Within the context of the story and culture from which it derives, it speaks to a way of life in which sexuality is accepted as a natural and cotidian element. However, in our cultural context, it poses some problems of potential audience. Finally, this publication has received a lot of press because the author is a Zapatista insurgent involved in guerrilla warfare with the Mexican government. The book, however, stands alone as a lovely, integrated folktale with a meaning and message all its own, and is deserving of purchase.
Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

In the course of the story we learn many things.
Elderbear
I wish I was 5 again and that someone would have given me this book... How much would I have learned!
O. M. Suarez
Lovely story, pictures are beautiful and colours are very exciting.
Mrs Mac

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Middlekauff (marx48@earthlink.net) on November 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Subcomandante Marcos uses this folktale as an instrument to teach adults and children alike the importance of all colors. This folktale helps us to understand the present situation in Chiapas since not every color is being respected, i.e. the peoples of color. A well written story with beautiful pictures, a book that should be in every primary school classroom.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who was that masked man?
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos has crafted a different kind of revolution and with it, a different revolutionary story. This isn't another boring tome, that competes with the author's Kalishnakov repair manual for dreary tedium. In this book, targetted at children (and those who were once children), we read of colorful birds and quarrelling gods. More powerful fare than class warfare or guerrilla strategies.
The book begins with a walk up a hill in Chiapas. Well, actually, we read "I light my pipe, and after three ceremonial puffs, I begin to tell you--just the way old Antonio used to tell it--"
Already we are invited to a different world, a world where stories don't appear in living color between commercials, as a means of inducing consumption. If we accept this invitation, succeeding pages take us up a hill where "el viejo Antonio" takes time out from a journey to share a more colorful universe with the "Insurgente."
The masked revolutionary turns back and sits down with the old one, who ignores his concern about reaching the village before the rain falls. Rain only endangers evil witches in Oz. Here in Chiapas, something more important bursts into our constructed reality, and we are transported to a world of black and white. No real colors. Only grey, to keep the black of night and the white of day from bumping into each other too hard. This is a world where the seven gods who created all things have disappeared. In this bleak landscape, only blind people and quarelsome, sleeply gods remain.
In the course of the story we learn many things. We hear the story of an unfamiliar culture. It's a fun story, playful, suitable for children.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Subcommandante Marcos' La Historia de los Colores represents one of the most recent examples of a tradition of didactic story-telling that dates back at least to Aesop's Fables. The simplicity of the language, and of the book's moral, when coupled with its lavish pictures, naturally endears itself towards a child audience. The bilingual nature of the work (the narrative is told in Spanish and in English) means furthermore that the book is not entirely devoid of educational merit. Turning to the moral of the tale, whatever one may think of it's author - and I happen to believe that Marcos is fulfilling a necessasry role in that particular part of the world at this particular time - the book's message is unimpeachable, for it is cultural rather than political. Another of Amazon's reviewers has dubbed it 'Mein Kampf for children', however, it is in actuality the very antithesis of this. Mein Kampf, it will be remembered, preached the racial and cultural supremacy of a single Master Race: La Historia de Los Colores, on the other hand, preaches the intrinsic merit of a plurality of cultures and beliefs: diversity for diversity's sake one might almost say.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for children and adults. It has beautiful pictures illustrating the introduction of colors into the world. Great for those interested in Indigenous mythology.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Subcomandante Marcos continues to impress me with his beautifully poetic writings. He is a master of using folktale as way of teaching both adults and children to understand what is really going on in Chiapas. This is a very well written story with beautiful pictures that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By O. M. Suarez on January 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is for those who come after, for those whose world we, adults, are supposed to help build. This is to tell them: "Yes, it is possible. Dreams are necessary and possible." And when the time comes to defend your dreams, just do it. For those with bare Spanish the writing style may look a little startling, as it is carefully crafted in the Mayan undertaking of Cervantes' language. Yet, this adds up to the charm and magic of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos' book. If this wasn't enough there's the individual story of this book published after the wimpy Nat'l Endowment for the Arts withdrew its support. Domitila's colored images are the perfect envelope for La Historia de los Colores. I wish I was 5 again and that someone would have given me this book... How much would I have learned!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Un libro excelente para que niños y niñas de todo el mundo desarrollen consciencia de la existencia de otros pueblos, culturas, historias, cuentos, tradiciones y seres humanos. La publicación de este libro en Español e Inglés en el mismo texto es una muestra de la importancia de romper barreras que tanto nos dividen, como el idioma. Las pinturas de Domitila son hermosísimas y la narración de Marcos está al nivel de todo el que aprecie la simpleza y a la vez, la complejidad de una comunidad global dividida por colores, razas y etnicidades. Está dirigido a todas las edades y las nacionalidades. Excelente.
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