Beauty in Two Languages | Sojourners

Beauty in Two Languages

Magic Dogs of the Volcanos/Los Perros Magicos de los Volcanes is the first book written for children by one of Central America's premier novelists, Manlio Argueta. Author of the widely read One Day of Life (1983), and Cuzcatlan (1987), Argueta has rewritten in this newer book (illustrated by Elly Simmons; Children's Book Press, 1990; $12.95, cloth) the recent lurid history of his native El Salvador in a beautifully mythic and heartening form.

Brilliant illustrations by North American artist Elly Simmons complement a narrative filled with all of the flowering movements and rich colors of the Central American isthmus. Magic Dogs of the Volcanos contains English translations by Stacy Ross that parallel Argueta's text; the story is strikingly beautiful in both languages. The book's prose makes an excellent resource for a child (or adult) who is learning either Spanish or English.

Manlio begins with the benevolent cadejos, wolf-like creatures of Salvadoran folklore that accompany the campesinos on the slopes of the country's volcanos and protect them from misfortune. The seraphic cadejos, however, soon find themselves on the wrong side of the local landowners, who blame the magic dogs for causing the peasants to "want to eat when they are hungry, and drink water when they are thirsty and rest in the shade when the sun is hot."

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Sojourners Magazine January 1992
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