Cover image for The secret footprints
The secret footprints
Alvarez, Julia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, : Distributed by Random House, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A story based on Dominican folklore, about the ciguapas, a tribe of beautiful underwater people whose feet are attached backwards, with their toes pointing in the direction from which they have come.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.0 0.5 43560.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1909 .A47 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
F1909 .A47 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
F1909 .A47 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Este entretenido libro, dirigido especialmente a lectores entre cuatro y siete años, recrea una leyenda tradicional del folclor de República Dominicana. Relata la historia de los ciguapas, un pueblo mítico que habita en las profundidades marinas y tiene la piel dorada y el cabello oscuro. Los ciguapas son hermosos e inteligentes y tienen una característica física muy especial: sus pies no apuntan hacia delante -como ocurre con los humanos- sino hacia atrás, para que al caminar nadie pueda seguir sus huellas y llegar hasta su hogar. Este relato muestra cómo una bella ciguapa se aventura una noche hasta la tierra en busca de comida y allí encuentra a un niño. Lo sigue y al conocer a su familia descubre que los humanos también pueden ser bondadosos. Ella promete a sus padres que nunca volverá a acercarse a las personas. Sin embrago, de vez en cuando visita a su pequeño amigo.

Author Notes

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950 and was raised in the Dominican Republic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she traveled across the country with poetry-in-the-schools programs and then taught at the high school level and the college level. In 1991, she earned tenure at Middlebury College and published her first book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, which won the PEN Oakland/Jefferson Miles Award for excellence in 1991. Her other works include In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side of El Otro Lado, and Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-9. Alvarez, known for adult books such as How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1999), uses her native Dominican Republic as background in this reanimation of an ancient Taino Indian folktale about beautiful creatures, the ciguapas, who are afraid of humans. So terrified that humans will capture them and force them into cages, the ciguapas live under the sea during the day, venturing forth only at night to hunt. The creatures look like humans, except for their feet, which are on backward, enabling them to elude human trackers. Their safety is threatened, though, by Guapa, whose increasing fascination with the human world causes her to be careless with her visits. Negrin's intense pastels capture the lush tropicality of the setting and also, with their suggestion of magical realism, enhance the legend's delicate mystery. Children will be ensnared by the danger the creatures face and cheered by the story's resolution. A moving and informative note about the tale is appended. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Making her children's book debut, Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) fulfills only some of the potential inherent in her story, which is based on an intriguing legend from the Dominican Republic, where she grew up. The ciguapas are a secret tribe who live underwater "in cool blue caves hung with seashells and seaweed" and venture onto land only at night because they are so afraid of humans. Their unusual anatomy helps preserve their hidden existenceÄtheir feet are on backward, so that "when they walked on land, they left footprints going in the opposite directions." But Guapa, an especially beautiful ciguapa, does not fear humans, even after the ciguapa queen warns her that if they capture her, people "will force you to take baths and do laundry and wash your hands before meals." Guapa's curiosity nonetheless drives her to surface from the sea one bright day, whereupon an encounter with a kind boy and his family threatens to ruin the ciguapas' secret. Unfortunately, the narrative is not uniformly focused and the climactic episode lacks tension; the payoff seems small. To a large extent Negrin's (The Selfish Giant) stylized, luminous paintings compensate for the story's shortcomings. Somehow he renders the ciguapas as both elusive and earthy. Portraying the vegetation of the sunlit tropical setting as well as the ciguapas' watery, nocturnal frolics, he suggests a world lush with mystery. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-The brilliant blues, greens, and yellows of a tropical island set the mood for this bit of magical realism from the Dominican Republic. It is based on a legend about the ciguapas, a secret tribe of beautiful creatures who appear to be human except for their backward feet. In this tale, Guapa, a fearless young ciguapa, repeatedly risks being discovered by venturing from the undersea caves in which she lives to explore the land. Though she tries to heed her queen's warnings, Guapa's curiosity eventually gets the best of her, and in one of her daylight forays, she is found by a family of friendly humans who think she has twisted her ankles badly. When they leave to get a doctor, she remains in the care of their son. Having learned her lesson, she manages to escape, leaving behind a seashell for the boy, who never forgets the mysterious stranger. Alvarez's language flows as effortlessly as the vivid colors in the pictures, setting a mood of ease and tranquillity echoed in the rounded forms and curving lines of the illustrations. This gentle tale, with its images of glowing color, conjures up a touch of magic.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.