Run, Little Chaski! An Inka Trail Adventure by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

Run, Little Chaski! An Inka Trail Adventure by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson. Barefoot Books, 2021. 9781646861651

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Paperback

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? It is Little Chaski’s first day as a royal messenger. The Qoya, the Queen, has entrusted him to deliver a khipu to the King, the Inka, before the sun sets. Little Chaski is fast and strong, but he runs into obstacles along the way. A chinchilla, an allqu, and condor need his help. He makes it just in time and has a story to tell the Inka of his journey.

The striking mixed media art in deep colors perfectly captures the feel of the mountainous Inka Empire. Chaski and his Inka family have deep brown skin with shadings of umber, and white finger and toe nails, a detail which I loved. Quechua words are sprinkled liberally throughout the text, and a glossary appears at the end. Fun onomatopoeia and the repetitive phrase “Run, run, Little Chaski, phaway!” enliven the narration of Little Chaski’s epic run. I love the suspense of the delays and wondering whether he will make it in time. And when he arrives without the khipu, which observant readers will know is with the allqu, one wonders what will happen. Back matter about the Inka and the role of chaskis is nicely done, and rounds out the story of an ancient culture. (I had never heard about khipus, which were knotted threads used to communicate important news. Only a select few people had the ability to read them.)

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For ages 3-6, especially for units on South America.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 1, 2021

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