Book Review: Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoíris Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Review by Rosa Sala-Healey

Can garbage be turned into something beautiful? Find out how a young Mayan girl is using ancient traditions from her culture to improve the environment.

Cover of Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoíris by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

This book is important due to the few representations of indigenous people that our students encounter. We have the opportunity to have a window to Mayan women from Guatemala who for over two thousand years worked as skilled weavers supporting their families by creating beautiful and complex fabrics. This bilingual book (English/Spanish) also introduces the reader to a few Mayan words used before Spanish took over as the language of the colonizer. Even the main’s character’s name, Ixchel, is the
name of a Mayan Goddess. It means “rainbow goddess”, which is perfect for a young Mayan weaver who makes colorful fabric with her traditional backstrap looms. This book also a call for environmental responsibility a must have for the new generations.

Page from Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoíris

The beautiful illustration showcases the creativity and complex designs that the Guatemalan weavers make. You can tell that Chavarri had paid attention to the details of the indigenous shirts (huipils) and their skirts (corte), honoring their artisanal work as art pieces. The illustrations highlight weaving as a connection to their ancestors, both of which empower women by helping them to provide for their families. Chavarri’s vivid illustrations bring the story to life by helping to scaffold the meaning when teaching in the target language.

Additional resources:

Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoíris (2016). Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. Lee and Low.

Reviewed by Rosa Sala-Healey. Rosa is an educator with over twenty years’ of experience in the elementary classroom. She is pursuing a Master’s in Immersion Education at the U of M.  As an educator, I have a passion for language acquisition and equity work. I would add this book to my multicultural library.

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