Synopses & Reviews
A bearer of doom, or a bringer of change? As the Aztec empire falls, one girl defies her destiny.
In the golden city of Tenochtitlán, the people live in awe of Emperor Montezuma and in fear of blood-hungry gods. Under an ill-fated sky, a girl is born, facing a life of submission and domestic drudgery. But Itacate has a secret passion for goldwork, forbidden to women, and is forced to disguise her identity to protect herself and her family. When her city is shaken by Cortezs invasion, Itacate challenges fate, culture, and faith by crafting golden statues — and pursuing the love of a man who should be her enemy. From the author of I AM APACHE comes a tale of clashing cultures, a rich and powerful depiction of Aztec life during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
"The Incan empire's four-century ascendance has inspired plenty of nonfiction and over-the-top fantasy but perplexingly little historical fiction for kids. This recommended title can help fill that void."
"This quiet, deeply moving story reminds readers of the true nature of beauty."
"Micay's intimate narration weaves in Quechua vocabulary and abundant references to Incan folklore, enhancing the novel's vivid sense of time and place."
"A gripping story of a girl who transforms from a cowed outcast into a confident leader, this will find an audience among tweens and teens beginning to question what fate has in store for them."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
At the height of the Incan empire, a girl called the Ugly One because of a disfiguring scar on her face, seeks to have the scar removed and instead finds a life path as a shaman.
I had always been ugly, as far back as I could remember.
Micay has a deep scar that runs like a river from her right eye to her lip. The boys in her Incan village bully her because of it, and most of the adults ignore her. So she keeps to herself and tries to hide the scar with her long hair, drawing comfort from her family and her faith in the Sun God, Inti. Then a stranger traveling from his jungle homeland to the Sacred Sun City at Machu Picchu gives her a baby macaw, and the path of her life changes. Perhaps she isnt destined to be the Ugly One forever. Vivid storytelling and rich details capture the life and landscape of the Incan Empire as seen through the eyes of a young girl who is an outsider among her own people.
About the Author
Leanne Statland Ellis teaches third to fifth graders in the Chicago area. She was inspired to write The Ugly One, her first novel, by her travels in Peru, including two visits to Machu Picchu. She lives near Chicago with her husband and daughter.