La Llorona, the Crying Woman

Written by Amy Córdova (illus.) Enrique Lamadríd (trans.) Rudolfo Anaya
Review by Eva Ulett

Maya is born in ancient Mexico with a sunburst birthmark on her shoulder. She is declared to be a child of the Sun by the village priest, favored with immortality. Once she is grown, her parents take Maya to live beside a jungle lake, to protect her from jealous Señor Tiempo. In this isolated situation Maya becomes lonely and grows children in bowls filled with earth and seeds brought by a young farmer from a neighboring valley. Maya and her children are content in their lakeside home until Señor Tiempo discovers them. He deceives Maya into destroying the bowls from which the children sprang. Maya loses her children, and her lamentations beside the lake are heard by the villagers from afar. Mothers warn their children not to venture near dangerous waters or La Llorona, the Crying Woman, will claim them as her own.

La Llorona, the Crying Woman is a retelling of a Mexican cautionary folktale. The illustrations are vibrantly colored and evocative of an indigenous culture. Rudolfo Anaya’s gentle portrayal of mortality and loss is presented in side-by-side English and Spanish text. The story is recommended for ages 9 and up.