Exactly three years ago, Thrums Books released Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu. It was such a pleasure working with the author, Libby Van Buskirk, who had deeply researched the folk tales and folkways of the Peruvian highlands during her many years of travel in that country. And the illustrator, Angel Callañaupa Alvarez, is a Quechua Indian and self-taught artist who painted his own life in response to the stories–it’s rare for text and illustration to come together so seamlessly.
I was taking another look at the book the other day as I started plotting out my holiday shopping lists. My grandchildren all have their own copies, and one even reviewed the book for this blog–a rare six-year-old’s take on stories from another culture. But then I stopped in the Open Studio sale of my sister company, ClothRoads, and was stopped in my tracks by the collection of dolls from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. Dressed in beautifully and authentically detailed costumes of Peruvian villages: Chinchero, Chahuaytire, Patabamba, and more. The dolls were like the book come to life. (Well, not life per se. Doll life.)
It was so refreshing to see these lovely handmade charmers with their handwoven skirts and mantas and hats and jackets, and to re-read the stories that reflect a real-life view of childhood in the Andes–and the strength and courage and imagination instilled in children growing up in that environment. If you’re shopping for young ones, put this idea on your list: doll and book. Doll as an heirloom to be cherished, not doll to have her hair curled and whatnot. Both available at ClothRoads.