The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent

The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent

Written by Irene Vasco
Translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
Illustrated by Juan Palomino
Expected publication by Eerdman's Publishing Co.: October 10, 2023

Mom's Review
This title is part of Eerdman's Latin America collection. 

I need to start at the end and move backward. The ending, where the young teacher understands the veracity and value of the indigenous people's legends and completely redesigns her curriculum is the most satisfying conclusion imaginable.

Beautiful illustrations show the legendary great river serpent lurking beneath the river surface as the young teacher ventures deep into the Amazon rainforest. Readers will also see a thread trailing behind the nameless educator, connecting everywhere she has been to where she is. In the end, we see how threads from all the women in the village are integrated into the embroidered cloth books that ultimately make up the school's library.

Story and illustrations speak to the strength of community, particularly the strength women, and to the passion of first-year educators. Children will enjoy seeing how the teacher is influenced by her students and imagining perspective of their own teachers. Furthermore, imaginations will be sparked by the question of the serpent because the reality of the Great Serpent is left open to interpretation. Is there really a live creature or is it just the serpentine movement of a mudslide and flood that have been dubbed "Great Serpent?"

Rich like the renewed soil after a flood, The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent will offer something to all audiences, but it will resonate especially with those who value knowledge.