Margarito’s Forest / El Bosque de Don Margarito / Ri k’iche’laj ri tat Margarito

This true story, set in a remote village in the mountains of central Guatemala, helps explain one Maya family’s understanding of living in harmony with nature.

Margarito’s forest was inspired by Don Margarito and his lifelong commitment to the ecology of his community. After a young Esteban complains of having to carry a seedling tree to his grandmother’s house, he is told the extraordinary story of Don Margarito’s adventures learning about the varied benefits of his country’s woodland plants and trees. Don Margarito planted trees throughout his life despite the ridicule he faced from some villagers. Readers find out how his forest proved beneficial to the community, including being the perfect hiding place that saved his family during an attack on his village. Unfortunately, Don Margarito perished in that war, but his daughter, Maria Guadalupe, continues to tend to his forest to this day. At the story’s conclusion, readers find Don Margarito’s great-grandson, Esteban, honoring his great-grandfather and his forest.

The unique illustrations combine artwork from a professional illustrator and the children of an elementary school where the story is set. This bilingual English/Spanish story includes photographs; captions in the indigenous Mayan language spoken in Margarito’s village, Saq Ja’; and an explanation of Maya numbers.

The author also provides ten study questions for teachers, librarians, and parents.

Author(s): Andy Carter, Allison Havens, & The Maya Book Project Steering Committee (Omar Mejia, Eduardo Elias, Petrona López Pastor, & Lázaro Reyes Sajbin)

Andy Carter is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Roosevelt University. He is a founding board member of the Resource Center, serves on the Local School Council at the William Ray School. He is a master gardener, a guitar player, and an environmental activist. In April of 2007 he made his first of five trips to the village of Saq Ja’, Guatemala as a delegation member from University Church. On that trip he was struck by the stark contrast between a lush old-growth forest near the village, and the fields and scrub brush that surrounded it. He was told that Margarito, a man with a peculiar love of trees, had planted the forest. On subsequent trips he carried out a series of interviews with Maria Guadalupe, the daughter of Don Margarito, to find out about this Mayan man and his forest. Margarito’s Forest is based on information he gathered from these interviews (Source).

Allison Havens, Coordinator of Maya Book Project in Guatemala and illustrator for El Bosque de Don Margarito (Source).

Omar Mejia, a former high school and primary school teacher and the current Director of  Acorn Childcare Center, in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (Source).

Eduardo Elias, a professional Spanish/K’iche’ translator and a Spanish/K’iche’ teacher at Proyecto Linguistico Quetzaltenango, in Quetzaltenango (Source).

Petrona López Pastor, Teacher and Director of Saq Ja’ Basico School (Source).

Lázaro Reyes Sajbin, Teacher and Administrator of Saq Ja’ Basico School (Source).

Steering Committee of The Maya Book Project.
Excerpt from the book.

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