English & Quechua
Mariana Llanos & Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Little Chaski is about to begin his first day as a royal messenger! After receiving some advice from other Chaskis (messengers) he goes to the Queen for his task. He receives a khipu (a series of knotted strings that recorded messages) to deliver to the Inka king. Along the way, Little Chaski gets sidetracked helping others, but will the king understand if he’s late?
I really like how this book combines the importance of kindness with historical information about the Inka Trail and language! Author Mariana Llanos has a lovely note in the back of the book where she writes about how proud she is to be Peruvian and learn about Inka history. She specifically touches on how the Inka learned from other cultures and worked harmoniously with nature.
The illustrations are bright and fun, and I love the Quechua sprinkled in as well as Inka beliefs. In the backmater is information about different animals in the region, the Inka Trail, and what the chaskis were best known for in the empire. This is another example of how Barefoot Books prioritizes creators that have lived experiences and background knowledge of the books they write, and Mariana Llanos’ love of Inka culture is clear.
Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian-born writer of children’s literature. Her books include Luca’s Bridge, Eunice and Kate, Kutu the Tiny Inca Princess, and Poesia Alada. In 2017, she was selected as the Best Latino Artist by the Hispanic Arts Council of Oklahoma, where she resides. She is a member of the SCBWI and currently serves as the Inclusion and Diversity Chair for their Oklahoma Chapter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking, spending time with her children, and visiting schools to ignite the love for reading.
Mariana Ruiz Johnson is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. She likes to explore the narrative power of illustration and the relationship between images and words. Using vibrant palettes and different patterns and textures, she combines traditional techniques and digital media. Mariana lives in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina with her husband and two children.