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Up and Down the Andes, A Peruvian Festival Tale Review by Melissa Theberge

Laurie Krebs
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

It's festival time in Peru, and all the children are traveling from their homes to the city! Join them with the help of this beautiful picture book and see how they travel to the festival, what they wear, what they carry, and how they celebrate. It's an unforgettable, colorful journey.

Up and Down the Andes, A Peruvian Festival Tale highlights the artistic work of Aurelia Fronty, whose detailed paintings tell the story as thoroughly as Laurie Krebs' written words do. This hardcover book features full-page art that spreads across every two pages with the story's words placed at the top or bottom of each page in black artful font. Each pair of pages highlights certain children traveling to the festival on foot from Machu Picchu, by train from Arequippa, by boat on Lake Titicaca, and by other means from other locations as well. Each child is traveling to the central square of Cusco to celebrate the Festival of the Sun and when they arrive, they will be wearing their special costumes, practicing ancient rituals, and enjoying feasts, music, and dance. The story is told in short sentences, with only one or two per page, rhyming as if in a poem. The paintings are perfect for the story, truly presenting pages full of motion and activity nearly twenty inches wide! The faces are dynamic and unique, yet they show the common experience of beautiful traditional colors and patterns of the country in their clothing and headwear.

The story itself consumes the first twenty pages or so, and the remaining ten pages provide much more specific and detailed information. An entire page is dedicated to Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun for which the book is written. Following this is a page describing three other prominent Peruvian festivals, two pages with five detailed paragraphs about Peru's history from ancient times to the present, and a page each about the major people groups of Peru, the history of Machu Picchu, details about the Andes Mountains, and a list of other interesting facts. A painted map graces the last page, showing Peru's location in South America and placing all locations mentioned in the story. These fact-focused pages are as beautiful as the previous twenty, with painted backgrounds and other detailed art to complement each topic listed above.

This is an absolutely beautiful book, a treasure for the bookshelf, marrying the wonder of a child's folk tale with the interest of historic details, a homeschool parent's dream! Older children will enjoy this book with its blend of art, story, and history which cross many learning levels, providing an inspiring read for nearly any age. The youngest among us might only find interest through the story portion at first but can grow along with this book into the later pages as interest and ability allow. The art will capture the imagination of any reader at any age and will leave you wanting more.

Product Review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2009