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Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2013 Adolescent Micay is known as “the Ugly One” in her Incan village, thanks to a disfiguring facial scar she received in her youth. A stranger passing through her village sees her differently, however, and leaves her a gift: a scrawny baby macaw, named Sumac Huanacauri (Handsome Rainbow). Caring for Sumac is the beginning of a transformation for Micay, as the bird eventually leads her to the house of the local shaman, the Paqo, who takes Micay on as a student, teaching her to see “Beyond,” to heal, and to become more confident in herself. When a drought threatens the villagers and the Incan empire at large, Micay decides to travel to Machu Picchu with the entourage of the Incan emperor to ask the Sacred Rock a question. She intends to ask for healing of her scar but instead finds herself asking for help for the starving people, and the rains finally come. It is then that Micay learns that it has been her destiny all along to be the Marked Girl who would save her people, and that she is meant to train as a priestess with the high priest of the Incas. The measured, slightly formal tone of Ellis’ prose suits the almost folktale-like structure of her narrative, while Micay’s pain and confusion at being bullied for her disfigurement keeps the story personal and immediate. Older middle-graders and young teens with an interest in history and other cultures will find the particulars of Incan life, including some less contemporary aspects (a couple of llamas are sacrificed and human sacrifice is referenced but not described). A gripping story of a girl who transform from a cowed outcast into a confident leader, this will find an audience among tweens and teens beginning to question what fate has in store for them. JH - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.