There are three good reasons for liking this book. First, well written fiction gains by the presence of well researched fact; second, the illustrations by el Silverman are admirably suited to the Mayan background of the story; and last, there is a not at all preachy message and its value to our own rapidly assimilating Spanish speaking citizens suggests a possible use for the book outside its more obvious place on bibliographies supporting South American study projects. Tuchin is heir to two cultures --that of his Mayan forebears with all their very much alive superstitions and taboos; he is also attending school where the 20th Century is held out to him, opening doors to the future while closing certain doors to the past. When archaeologists come to his mother's inn near some ancient ruins in Yucatan, Tuchin becomes their translator, calling their orders to the Mayan pick and shovel crew who are afraid they might disturb the sacrificial well of the rain god, Chac. Tuchin is all set to become a nervous wreck himself, but braced by his mother and intrigued by the dredging and diving techniques of the archaeologists, he finds his feet in both worlds -- reaining an admiration for the beauty of the last stripped of fear and a new appreciation for the miracles of the machine age. Well done, by a new author.