HEART OF A JAGUAR by Marc Talbert


Age Range: 12 & up
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 For readers who believe that ancient civilizations make for dry and dusty realms, Talbert (The Purple Heart, 1992, etc.) offers a heart-stopping story of mythic proportion. Balam can no longer remember the taste of maize, the grain that once served as his people's primary source of nourishment. In these lean times, the villagers have tried everything to appease the gods--short of the prescribed human sacrifice--and have begun speaking out against their holy man. When raiders from a nearby village steal first Balam's betrothed and later the precious maize kernels that are the village's future, the bachelors follow them into the forest. Balam, too, goes into the forest intending to join the bachelors, but the gods give him a different mission--to slay a jaguar and bring back his heart as a gift of appeasement. Balam comes across a greatly weakened jaguar and, with the aid of a herd of peccaries and his own cunning, returns to the village draped in the jaguar's skin, clutching its heart. Readers will feel their own hearts gripped as the story hurtles toward its terrible, inevitable conclusion. In carefully honed language, Talbert reverently captures the violent beauty of the ancient Mayan culture and creates a hero of extraordinary courage and generosity. (glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-689-80282-X
Page count: 197pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1995


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