• Reading
  • Writing
  • Cultural Studies

Every culture has tales and legends unique to them. These stories are part of our identity. They teach us lessons and guide us in how to look at the world.

Author Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, himself a descendant of the Tarascan tribe, composed this collection of stories from the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Renowned artist Tomie dePaola's vibrant drawings illustrate the collection. 


Craft and Structure—What is a Metaphor?

Fairy tales, myths, and legends are often rife with metaphors. Metaphors are instances in fiction, poetry, or song lyrics when an object or event is a stand-in for something else, especially an abstract construct like family or love. 

This collection of stories is no different. For example, in The Boy Who Cried Jade Tears, Balam's jade tears may be metaphors for hard work, or giving credit where it is due. 

Reread one of these stories or the entire collection. Pick out as many metaphors as you can. Explain what you think they are metaphors for and why you think they are metaphors for those things using evidence from the text.

Text Types and Purposes—Themes Across Cultures

In the video about the feathered serpent to the right, the narrator discusses how Quetzalcoatl made his way into the lore of other cultures, such as the Mormons. How do you think this happened? Why? Do some research to find similar instances of prevalent themes appearing across cultures. 


Production and Distribution of Writing—Your Culture, Your Stories

The stories in this book are from the several native tribes of Mexico. Where are your ancestors from? Ask your parents or a relative if you don't know. 

Do some research to find stories from your own culture. Examine the elements and themes of the stories. Write a paragraph or short essay about why these elements may be important to your culture. For example, Tribe of the Deer is likely important to the Tarascan people because deer were their food source and they used their skins for clothing.

Then pick one of the stories you find to read aloud to the class.

Supplemental Videos

This video discusses the history and importance of the feathered serpent.

(Skip to 55 seconds to skip the intro sequence)