Just a year ago today, 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, 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 Christmas 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.)
After being bombarded in the media for weeks with that noxious high-tech Barbie doll and the offensive book that implied girls can’t write code, 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 www.clothroads.com. The book is in the Book category (of course), and the dolls are in the Whimsy category, page 2.
ps – If you don’t have kids to shop for, consider donating to Chocolatadas, sponsored by Andean Textile Arts. This lovely program goes to each of ten Peruvian highland villages and gives each child a nourishing chocolate/oatmeal drink , a toy, and a bit of holiday entertainment. These are rare treats for these children. You can donate at www.andeantextilearts.org, knowing that every penny will go directly to the cause.