The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2016
The princess Izta is known for her beauty but rejects all suitors until the warrior Popoca compliments her kind and beautiful heart. Her father admires Popoca’s bravery as a solider but hoped his daughter would marry a ruler. Still, he agrees Popoca may have Izta’s hand in marriage after defeating Jaguar Claw, ruler of a neighboring land. Jaguar Claw tricks Izta into thinking Popoca is dead and gives her poison. Popoca, finding his beloved in a sleep from which he cannot wake her, does not leave her side, even as the snows begin to fall. Their two snow-covered forms eventually become two volcanoes. This traditional Aztec legend of eternal love is also an origin story for two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, located south of Mexico City. This spirited retelling weaves in original elements and Nuhaatl words—“the language Popoca and Izta would have spoken.” An informative author’s note places this version in the context of many others, and of various forms of art created to honor the two volcanoes. A glossary defining the Nahuatl words is also included. Tonatiuh’s singular illustrations, inspired by Mixtec codices, provide striking visual accompaniment. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- What is a legend? Connect the names of the volcanoes to the story. What are some other similar stories you know?
- How are Popoca’s words “music to Izta’s ears”? How are they different than her other suitors’ words?
- How does Popoca show that he is brave, courageous, and loyal to Izta?