The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent

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The New York Times New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books Award (2023)

A stunningly illustrated fable about cultural humility and the transcendent power of stories.

A young teacher sets out for the Amazon rain forest, eager to share geography, science, and math with the remote community of Las Delicias. The town's children love the books the young teacher brings, and yet they keep repeating legends about a great and dangerous serpent. The young teacher can't believe her students still care about that nonsense. But as the river rises, those stories don't seem so strange anymore. Maybe books aren't the only way to discover the wisdom of past generations...

The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent is a poetic, thought-provoking exploration of how stories can protect and guide a community. Bold, dynamic art and lyrical writing will open unforgettable conversations about cross-cultural relationships, the importance of indigenous knowledge, and what it means to be a lifelong learner.

Author: Irene Vasco
Binding Type: Hardcover
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Published: 10/10/2023
Series: Stories from Latin America
Pages: 40
Weight: 1lbs
Size: 9.80h x 10.90w x 0.60d
ISBN: 9780802856173
Audience: Ages 9-12

Review Citation(s):
Kirkus Reviews 08/15/2023
Booklist 10/01/2023 pg. 75
School Library Journal 10/01/2023 pg. 72
Shelf Awareness 10/27/2023
Horn Book Magazine 01/01/2024 pg. 87

About the Author
Irene Vasco is a Colombian children's writer, translator, and educator. For many years, she has conducted reading workshops and programs in remote indigenous and agricultural communities. In 2021, the Colombian Ministry of Education recognized Irene's career with its "Life and Work" distinction. Follow Irene on Instagram @irene_vasco or visit her website at

Juan Palomino is a prolific Mexican illustrator who started his own illustration teaching program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His books have received awards at the Guadalajara and Bologna Book Fairs, and the original edition of The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent was selected for the 2020 Fundación Cuatrogatos Award list. Follow Juan on Instagram @juanpalomino.ilustrador.

Lawrence Schimel has written or translated over 200 books, including Different, Niños, and 9 Kilometers (all Eerdmans). His works have received many awards, including the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, a PEN Translates Award, and the GLLI Translated YA Book Prize Honor. Lawrence lives in Madrid, Spain. Follow him on Twitter @lawrenceschimel.

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