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About the Author

Ann Cameron was born in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. She earned a BA with honors from Radcliffe College in Massachusetts in 1965, where she studied poetry with Robert Lowell and R. S. Fitzgerald. She earned a master's degree at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974. Today, Cameron is the bestselling author of many popular books for children, including The Stories Julian Tells, More Stories Julian Tells, The Stories Huey Tells, and More Stories Huey Tells.


Gr 5-8-Contemporary Guatemala is the setting for this story of 12-year-old Tzun#n Chumil (Mayan for "Hummingbird Star"), called Rosa Garcia by the man who supposedly rescued her from abandonment at age four. Rosa and "Uncle" Baltasar travel from place to place, begging for their livelihood as he pretends to be blind. But, despite her dependence on and devotion to him, Rosa is distressed by the dishonesty of their lifestyle and has memories of loving parents. Told by a seer, the Day-Keeper Do-a Celestina, that the child will bring him a treasure, Baltasar takes Rosa to the town of San Sebasti n where he and a friend develop a plan to steal a valuable statue from the town's church. The plot backfires when Rosa's conscience forces her to seek out the priest and reveal their intentions, and the two men are jailed. Rosa runs back to the kindly Day-Keeper, who takes her in and gives her the courage to make a new life for herself. When Uncle escapes, Rosa must confront him and, in a dramatic scene in which he plunges off a cliff, she learns that she was kidnapped. With the help of the Day-Keeper and a scrap of paper found in his wallet, Tzun#n is reunited with her parents. Cameron layers her compelling story with vivid descriptions of setting and weaves into the narrative the complexities inherent in the blending of Mayan and ladino cultures and religious practices. This is reflected in the book's title, which is the Spanish translation of Tzun#n's name. A well-written and engrossing read.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Achieving an almost hypnotic intensity, this taut novel invites readers to sample both savory and bitter flavors of Guatemalan culture as Cameron (The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods) creates a melting pot of mixed values, religions and races, where both the pure and not-so-pure of heart have faith in a spirit world. The narrator, a 12-year-old girl, navigates an uncertain, mysterious world; in bits and pieces, the author reveals that Tzunun (Mayan for "hummingbird," which is colibri in Spanish) was kidnapped at age four, while her family was visiting Guatemala City. In the intervening eight years, Tzunun has wandered from village to village with the man she knows only as "Uncle." Most of her early childhood has slipped from her memory, but she does remember that the "first job" her mother gave her was "to be honest." Cameron's understated prose eloquently expresses the complex, interdependent relationship between Tzunun and her kidnapper, who remain linked even though they feel little affection for each other. Tzunun does not leave Uncle because she is afraid of being alone, and Uncle keeps close watch over Tzunun because a fortuneteller predicted that she will lead him to treasure some day. Tension mounts as Tzunun is pressured to lie, cheat and eventually steal for Uncle. In the end, her strong morality is both a saving grace and a threat to her survival, freeing her from Uncle but putting her in danger of his vengeance. Tzunun's struggle to stay true to herself is moving and suspenseful. If the protagonist's final destiny feels somewhat contrived, her growth is convincing nonetheless. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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