Itzel and the ocelot

Rachel Katstaller

Book - 2022

"From debut author/illustrator Rachel Katstaller comes this rich, evocative folk tale inspired by stories she heard growing up in El Salvador. Itzel lives happily with her grandmother at the edge of the jungle. When the rains fail to come to water their crops, putting their livelihood at risk, her grandmother tells her that the giant snake is the one who announces the arrival of the rain. But many people don't believe in him anymore, so he has retreated to the place where the water is born. Itzel sets off alone to find the source of the river, determined to help her grandmother and summon the rain. As she journeys deeper into the jungle, she's joined by a strange ocelot who seems to recognize her -- and various other creature...s who need the rain to come but have lost faith in the giant snake. Itzel convinces them to join her anyway. And finally, just when she thinks she's failed, something surprising happens... Tender and expressive with understated environmental themes, this lushly illustrated story has plenty of charm and a touch of humour ("All animals can speak," the ocelot tells Itzel, "but you humans never listen"). Itzel is a compelling character determined to save her beloved jungle, and her relationship with the ocelot, who turns out to be her guardian spirit or "tonal", will intrigue young readers. The text is supported by an author's note and a glossary of Nawat words."--

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Location Call Number   Status
Bookmobile Children's jE/Katstaller Checked In
Children's Room jE/Katstall Checked In
Children's Room jE/Katstall Checked In
Picture books
Toronto : Kids Can Press [2022]
Main Author
Rachel Katstaller (author)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Young Itzel and her nana are living in a drought-stricken area. Food is scarce, but the loving grandmother is doing the best she can. Concerned, Itzel thinks about her favorite old story about a giant snake that brings the rainy season. Wanting to help her nana, Itzel sets out to find the snake. As she journeys to the place where the waters are born, she meets a talking ocelot who becomes her friend and guide. The two travel a great distance, gathering other animals seeking water as they go. Folk art--style illustrations capture the mix of fantasy and realism with colored pencils, acrylic paints, and gouache. As the author explains in a background note, she includes words from Nawat, one of El Salvador's original languages. Children will recognize many of the animals even if the names are unfamiliar. As life-giving rain finally begins to fall, readers are left to wonder if the cooperation between Itzel and the ocelot made a difference. That flowing river, however, does bear a resemblance to a giant snake.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A tenacious child finds strength in the jungle when her family needs help. Itzel, a brown-skinned girl, lives with her nana on the edge of a Salvadoran jungle. Severe drought threatens Itzel's way of life, and Itzel's nana explains that the giant snake who has been responsible for bringing the rainy season down from the hills has returned to where it was born. Determined to find and awaken the giant snake, Itzel leaves the house while her nana sleeps and begins her search. Along the way, Itzel meets and teams up with the titular Ocelot, who is also thirsty and willing to help with the search. The pair encounter other jungle critters who, desperate for water, join the effort. The situation looks grim when they reach the end of their journey and find only more arid land. Disappointment gives way to rushing water when a hopeless Itzel finally meets the giant snake. A lesson in self-determination and a nod to climate change and the impact of passionate individuals, Itzel's story also reminds readers of the power of groups working toward a common goal. Bold blocks of color and playful illustrations will captivate. Spanish and Nawat (one of the Indigenous languages of El Salvador) vocabulary is embedded in the story. (This book was reviewed digitally.) An inspiring adventure. (glossary, author's note) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.