Bilingual and Children

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The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story

Rudolfo Anaya
Illustrated by Amy Córdova
Translated by Enrique R. Lamadrid

Jade is a young girl who lives in a village next to a towering volcano. On its peak lives a Mountain Spirit who makes his presence known by rumbling the earth, filling the sky with smoke, and pouring lava down the mountainside. Angered by those who forget to honor him for providing their harvest, the Mountain Spirit has stopped sending rain to Jade’s village and the people are faced with the possibility of having to abandon their homes and land.

As Jade collects water from the near-dry lake, a blue hummingbird—a messenger from the Mountain Spirit—tells Jade she must take a gift to the Mountain Spirit and ask for rain. Guided by the hummingbird, Jade presents her food offering to the Mountain Spirit. Pleased, the spirit offers the brave girl corn kernels that she takes back to her village and uses to create the first tortilla.


Rudolfo Anaya, widely acclaimed as one of the founders of modern Chicano literature, is professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is best known for the classic Bless Me, Ultima.

Amy Córdova is an artist, author, educator and two-time ALA Pura Belpré Honors Award winner for children's book illustration. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, within the glorious view of the Jemez Mountains.

Enrique R. Lamadrid is a literary folklorist and cultural historian in the University of New Mexico's Department of Spanish and Portuguese.


"Anaya has retold a Mexican legend and made it his own with his spiritual prose. . . .A beautifully written and illustrated title."


School Library Journal

"This book is the total package: a Mexican folk tale in two languages and stunning, colorful illustrations that capture the beauty and culture of the tale."


Catholic Observer

"A beautiful bilingual book. . .the spiritual dimension with which Anaya has infused the legend. . .makes this book a valuable literary resource."


Hispanic Business News

". . .Cordova's superb illustrations weave the storyline across page turns. . . .a good addition to an established Latino folklore collection."


REFORMA Newsletter

"An ingenious retelling of a traditional Mexican folktale, vibrantly illustrated by prize-winning cultural activist Amy Cordova."


Midwest Book Review

"Amy Córdova's illustrations complement the spirituality Anaya has infused to this legend, and Enrique Lamadrid's expert translation into Spanish make this book an important contribution to Spanish children's literature in the U.S."


Santa Fe New Mexican

"Rudolfo Anaya continues his inspired journey into the world of bilingual children's literature with The First Tortilla, an enchanting story sprung from the folklore of Mexico."


The Pueblo Chieftain, CO

10 x 8.5 in. 32 pages 16 color illustrations