Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
Age Range: 6- 9 years old
Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for market. If they bring a good price, they will have money to pay for Ixchel s school and books. And besides, there is not enough extra thread for Ixchel to practice with.
Disappointed, Ixchel first tries weaving with blades of grass, and then with bits of wool, but no one would want to buy the results. As she walks around her village, Ixchel finds it littered with colorful plastic bags. There is nowhere to put all the bags, so they just keep accumulating.
Suddenly, Ixchel has an idea! She collects and washes the plastic bags. Then she cuts each bag into thin strips. Sitting at her loom, Ixchel weaves the plastic strips into a colorful fabric that looks like a beautiful rainbow just like the weavings of Mayan women before her.
I adore books that teach kids about human rights, fighting for a good cause and making the world a better place. It’s never too early to try and change the world, right? I enjoy reading books like Rainbow Weaver to help my kids exercise their power as agents of change in the world and help them not to feel powerless.
Little Ixchel wants to help her mother weave in order for her to be able to sell items at a nearby market. You see, Ixchel wants to earn money so she can pay for her books and other school materials. There’s only one problem though – there isn’t enough extra thread for her to use. She later gets inspiration from rainbow colored plastic trash bags surrounding her and turns them into fabric in order to create gorgeous rainbow pieces to sell at the market.
I am inspired by Ixchel’s problem solving spirit, resourcefulness and creativity! Not only are the pieces she creates are absolutely beautiful, but by turning the plastic bags into string she helps to clean up her village – genius! It reminds me to the book One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul.
I also loved that this book is bilingual – written in both Spanish and English text. The illustrations are stunning and very detailed. I think they really capture the Mayan culture really well. Parents and educators may be inspired to do simple weaving projects with their kids as an extension activity after reading this book. We plan to try our hands at our very first cardboard weaving project – so fun!
Although Ixchel is a fictional character, the author’s note in the back of the book mentions an organization of weavers in Guatemala called Mayan Hands which this book was inspired by. In an effort to bring more awareness to the work of the Mayan women, this book was written as a tribute to the weavers at Mayan Hands. A portion of the proceeds from this book will benefit weavers of the Mayan Hands and Maya Works cooperatives. The proceeds will also help by providing money for education of children like Ixchel, and for health and dental care for the weavers and their families.
I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about weaving, Mayan culture, art, environmentalism, problem solving, creative thinking, recycling and family traditions.