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The Colorful World of Latino Folktales

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The Hummingbird King: A Guatemalan Legend

Palacios, Argentina.  1993.  The hummingbird king:  A Guatemalan legend.  NJ:  Troll Associates.

Summary: A young chief who had been protected by a hummingbird is killed by his jealous uncle and then transformed into a quetzal, symbol of freedom (Verso 1993).

Type: Pourquoi - because it tells us how the Quetzal bird came about.

Characters: Kukul, the young chief is strong, caring, and courageous. Chiruma, who thinks he should be chief is arrogant and jealous of Kukul.

Setting: The story tells us that the Mayan people lived in Pyramids, palaces, and temples and this is were Kukul was born. It also tells us this was "long, long ago."

Plot: Kukul was voted in as the chief of the village and Chiruma was very jealous. Kukul never got hurt in a fight and Chiruma longed to find out why. One evening, Chiruma discovered that Kukul had a red feather. One day Kukul was hunting when Chiruma shot an arrow through his chest. By the time Chiruma got to his body, there was only a bird with a scarlet chest and beautiful green wings and a long tail. Chiruma became chief but it was not long before the village was suffering and the city attacked. Chiruma was taken away as a prisoner and never heard from again.

Theme: The only theme I could see was that good always conquers evil.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This book was okay. I liked the illustrations and the story in general about how this chief turns into a Quetzal bird, but overall the story was too long and my students lost interest in it. I found myself thinking "when is this going to be over?" I am sure my students were thinking the same thing.

Additional Feature:
The Hummingbird King: A Guatemalan Legend (Legends of the World)


Here are some quotes from my students:

"I like the end."

"It was very colorful."

"I think it is weird because how could a feather protect a boy."

"The only thing I liked was his greedy uncle getting what he deserved."


"Beautiful pictures, but kind of boring."

"I did not like it because I did not understand it."

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