7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #803: Featuring Mariana Chiesa

h1 July 17th, 2022 by jules


Originally published in Argentina in 2018 and translated into English by Elisa Amado, Suniyay Moreno’s The Youngest Sister (Greystone Kids, May 2022), illustrated by Mariana Chiesa, brings readers a day in the life of a Quechua girl who lives in a mountain village in Argentina: “In the mountains, far from Vaca Huañuna, on the other side of the river, the mum, the five sisters, the seven cousins, and the two children of Swallow the peon had slept in the hut that night.”

Picu is the youngest of the children (which means she is never given “the important jobs”) and in the morning is sent to secure the flavor bone from Doña Ciriaca; this will be used to bring flavor to their soup. Though she is to be home before noon in this place where no one measures time with a clock but relies on “the length of the shadows,” she returns late. And that’s because she is an eager, curious child who gets distracted on the way back: she climbs a white carob tree; wonders who will get the bone as a prize and recalls family memories and games played with her cousins; and runs through cactuses after a cloud of pilu-pintu butterflies. After sneaking back to her home, she manages to turn things around without being punished for being late — and successfully manages to win the flavor bone.

Moreno writes the text, as noted in the book’s close, as if someone in the Argentinean Quechua community were speaking it. Writes Amado, the translation “aims to respect the very special voice in which the story is told.” A glossary is included. Earlier in the story, Doña Ciriaca tells Picu: “Don’t delay on the hillside, because the Sachajoy is about.” In the closing glossary, we read that this is a guardian of the woodland. And if you remember the book’s opening line, shared above, we also read in the glossary that a peon is a “hired hand.”

Chiesa — this is her first book to be translated into English — conveys light and shadow especially well. The illustrations, rendered in crayon and modified digitally, are highly textured, and an earthy, subdued orange-red with a dusty copper undertone dominates the palette. It is with fantasy that she captures the moment (as seen on the cover) in which Picu sees the butterflies; her siblings and cousins are depicted flying in the air with white wings.

A fascinating glimpse into a Quechua community. Here’s a selection of spreads. …


“Picu smiled. She reached for the bag and shot off with the bone over her shoulder.
She heard Doña Ciriaca’s voice at her back: ‘Don’t delay on the hillside,
because the Sachajoy is about. Give the mum my best!'”

(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“She crossed the field and reached the hut just in time to push into the grandmother’s skirts. The mum lowered her whip to take the bag
with its bone and the unexpected present.”

(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“The five sisters, the seven cousins, the two sons of Swallow the peon, and the grandmother Estanislada all heard the mum’s announcement.
‘Here, Picu. You have won the flavor bone.'”

(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


THE YOUNGEST SISTER. First published by Greystone Books in 2022. Originally published in Argentina in 2018 as La hermana menor. Text and illustrations copyright © 2018 Pequeño editor. Translation copyright © 2022 Elisa Amado. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Greystone Kids.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Ada Limón as our new U.S. poet laureate!

2) Ludovico Einaudi’s Underwater.

3) The way this writer describes Andrew Bird’s “Underlands,” a song I’m mildly obsessed with.

4) Nora Brown kicking ass on the banjo, and she’s only something like 16 years old.

5) 988. Such good news that this exists for people now.

6) Last week’s episode of Better Call Saul.

7) Naps.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #803: Featuring Mariana Chiesa”

  1. Phew, we have some serious Kicks overlaps this week! For me:

    1) See Julie’s #1
    2) Planning a college visit / baseball / family vacation trip to Chicago. Our to-do list is very food-centric.
    3) Speaking of food and Chicago, watching THE BEAR. Doing that thing where you binge the first few episodes and then slow way down so it lasts longer.
    4) Farmstands with fresh tomatoes run by old ladies who call you baby or sweetheart despite their clear extreme grumpiness
    5) See Julie’s #5
    6) I told you there was a lot of overlap! Rhea Seehorn is a national treasure, No?
    7) I hear that it’s National Ice Cream day so I’m gonna do the patriotic thing and get a dip cone somewhere.

    Happy week, all!

  2. Love these bright illustrations and this story, the cover art and the deep pinks and magenta spread with the children playing are favorites.

    Jules – I echo your joy for 988 and for naps. I’m behind on Better Call Saul.

    Shauna – planning trips can be so much fun – have a wonderful time in Chicago!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Randomly coming across an Instagram post about Robyn Davidson’s trek across the Australian outback in a national geographic magazine from May 1978.
    2) Reading “Tracks – One Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback” and becoming completely entranced by this journey.
    3) Ms. Marvel! (Again, I know, but really love this series!)
    4) Florence Pugh and her eloquence in the face of internet trolls.
    5) An outdoor concert at the zoo.
    6) Got an egg cooker. Its amazing.
    7) Avocado toast and good coffee.
    7.5) A sunny, gorgeous Sunday.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Hi Imps! Hi Mariana, Suniyay, Elise, and Picu! Here’s to encouraging curiosity.

    Jules: Enjoy the music and the art! I too am glad the hotline exists for people.

    Shauna: Have a fun and safe trip! I know exactly what you mean about making a series last longer.

    Rachel: Ms. Marvel is so fun and so sweet.

    My kicks:
    1) Not rushing
    2) Time to spare
    3) Time to breathe
    4) Crossing errands off the list
    5) Chocolate
    6) Chances
    7) Good groove

  4. Shauna, I was just listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour’s episode about The Bear. (They loooove it.) Adding it to my list. Have a great trip! Also, you’ve made me want ice cream.

    Rachel, I had the exact same breakfast (#7). And I loooove how Ms. Marvel wrapped up. So good and rather remarkable, that whole show.

    Little Willow, ooh, “good groove” is evocative. Can mean many things. And we found some of our favorite chocolate (made by Hu) at our grocery store. That was a happy surprise. We thought we could only order it. I like that first kick too.

    Have a good week, you all!

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