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FUEGO, FUEGITO / FIRE, LITTLE FIRE by Jorge Tetl Argueta Kirkus Star


by Jorge Tetl Argueta ; illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara ; translated by Jorge Tetl Argueta ; Madeleine Maillet

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-55885-887-9
Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Argueta’s playful trilingual homage to fire spans its incarnation from spark to lava flow.

Fire can come singing into its strength at the striking of two stones or from a bolt slashing through the sky. As the oldest and strongest of all “Grandfather” elements on Mother Earth, its presence is seen and felt in ritual ceremonies and in kitchen hearths. But whereas Agüita/Little Water, from Argueta’s previous elemental book Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water (2017), declares at the end, “I am life,” Fuego/Fueguito claims to be “…the joyful energy of life.” By employing the diminutive Fueguito/Little Flame, the poet creates an affectionate tone with which fire introduces itself—thereby permitting the austere and imposing Fuego/Fire to transform into the friendly, helpful spark/chispita. In the body of the book, Argueta’s Spanish verse is printed above the English (translated by the author and Maillet) on the page, separated by Mesoamerican-inspired symbols. Communicating his and his people’s (Pipil Nahua) respect for nature, Argueta includes his Náhuat translation of his poem. Alcántara’s landscapes vary from the fury of a volcanic explosion to the stark beauty of the American Southwest. Full-page blazes of oranges, yellows, reds, and indigo underscore the simple narrative of the poem.

A gentle exploration of culture and nature.

(Picture book. 5-8)