Genre: Legend (an old story telling great deeds of a hero) Examples: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank. (adapted to help give students background information) How can a young girl become a hero in her village? By Rudolfo AnayaIllustrated by Amy Córdova
The First Tortilla Glossary jade – a precious stone in ancient Mexico rebozo – a shawl worn by Mexican women pozol – or posole, a corn and meat stew elote – an ancient Mexican word for ear of corn
The First Tortilla Glossary (continued) metate – concave rock where corn is ground mano – smooth rock with which to grind corn masa – dough tortilla – traditional Mexican bread
The First TortillaMother is crushing drychile pods in a metate. Father is weaving Jade is a basket. sleeping on a hammock.
The First TortillaJade and her people believe the MountainSpirit lives on the peak of the volcano. Jade prays for the spirit to send rain to help the plants and feed her people.
The First Tortilla Jade went to the almost dry lake to fill her pot with water. She came back to the garden and beganwatering the plants. A blue hummingbird flew in frontof her and whispered to Jade. It tells her to go to theMountain Spirit to ask for rain and to take a gift. Jadeknows the spirit sends messages through birds, so shemust listen. The bird will show her the way to the spirit.
The First Tortilla Jade came home and told her mother about thebird. Her mother told her of a hummingbird that flew over her crib when she was a baby. It was a sign from the Mountain Spirit.
The First TortillaA while ago, Jade’s people had lots of rain and good crops. The people forgot to thank theMountain Spirit or bring gifts to the mountain and now the Mountain Spirit is mad.
The First TortillaJade offered to take a gift to the Mountain Spirit, but herfather said it was not safe for a girl to climb the mountain. Her parents left to the store and the bird spoke to Jade, “the Mountain Spirit will listen to you.”
The First TortillaJade’s father had warned her it was dangerous to go up the mountain, but she knew her village would not have rain if she didn’t. She took a bowl of beans and squash with chile up to the mountain. She wore her rebozo or shawl and followed thehummingbird up the mountain when the mountain shook and big rocks came rolling down.
The First TortillaAs Jade went up the mountain, she stepped out of the way of the rolling rocks. Finally Jade and thehummingbird came to the home of the Mountain Spirit. There were butterflies flying around colorful flowers. A waterfall came down into a clear, blue lake.The Mountain Spirit asked Jade why she came as it filled the sky with smoke and thunder.
The First TortillaJade asked the spirit for rain and told how the rain was needed to grow the plants for food. TheMountain Spirit told her the people aren’t thankful for it, but Jade showed the bowl of beans andsquash filling the air with a pleasing smell. The spiritwas happy and told Jade she was brave to bring the offering to it. It promised to send rain.
The First Tortilla The spirit also told Jade it would give her a gift. She would get the food stored by the ants in the cave.Jade thought the ants were carrying pebbles but as she looked closer, she saw they were carrying corn seeds that grew on the mountain. One ant offered her a taste of a kernel and it had a sweet flavor.
The First Tortilla The ants told her the corn came from CornMountain, and they collect and store the corn in a cave. There were many piles of corn. One of theants told Jade the corn is a gift from the Mountain Spirit and she could take all she wanted.
The First Tortilla Jade put all the corn she collected in her rebozo orshawl. She was thankful to the spirit for giving her the corn. Jade thanked the hummingbird for showing her the way. She thanked the ants for sharing their corn and headed to her home.
The First Tortilla Mother and Father had returned from the market when Jade entered the house. She brought in the the corn carried in her rebozoand spilled it onto the floor. Her father wanted to know what she had brought in.
The First Tortilla Jade told him it was corn from the Mountain Spirit and to taste it. After her father tried the corn, hecouldn’t believe how sweet and tasty it was. He said the corn was hard to chew.
The First TortillaHer mother said she could boil the corn in a clay potto make pozol. Jade’s father tasted it and thought it tasted so good. He wanted to thank the Mountain Spirit for the corn.
The First TortillaThey spread the corn kernels in the garden. They gave a prayer of thanks.Clouds gathered on the mountain peak and itbegan to rain. Many days later, the corn plants began to grow.
The First TortillaThe corn tassels blossomed and corn began to appear on stalks. Jade picked the corn and said, “Elotes.”
The First TortillaThat evening mother made corn, beans, and squashflavored with red chile. Jade and her family ate it for their meal.
The First Tortilla After the corn was dried, Jade placed kernels in a metate and crushed them with a mano.She added water to the cornmeal to make a thickdough called masa and patted it back and forth inher palms until it was flat and round. Then shecooked it on a hot stone near the fire.
The First TortillaJade’s father asked what the good smell was and Jade said it was the masa. It was baking into a bread. She offered some to her parents. Jade named it a tortilla. Her father was proud of Jade.