A Gift for Ampato


96 pages
ISBN 0-88899-359-5
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Mary Jane Gerber
Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish at Queen’s University.


In September 1985, anthropologists Johan Reinhard and Miguel Zarate
discovered in the Nevado Ampato of the Peruvian Andes the wrapped mummy
figure of a girl (later to be known as the Ice Maiden) dating back to
the 15th century, when the Incas controlled a vast empire in South
America. Griek has drawn on the archeological and anthropological
findings and what we know about the structured Inca society, the role of
the community and the individual, and the importance of the gods to
create a work of fiction about the possible fate of the Ice Maiden. In A
Gift for Ampato, eight chapters of fiction alternate with eight chapters
of scientific and anthropological fact.

One narrative thread relates the story of Tinta. This young Inca girl
is chosen by the priests and leaders to be offered as a propitiatory
sacrifice to the gods of thunder and wind, who control natural phenomena
like landslides and volcanic eruptions. Whereas Tinta is uneasy about
her chosen role, her friend Karwa is a much more in tune with the spirit
of the gods and is willing to make the sacrifice for the well-being of
her people.

The other thread of the story deals with an old woman Riti, whose hard
life and agricultural tasks provide much useful information about Inca
life. As the story progresses, the young reader will see the connection
between the fate of Riti’s daughter, for whom she still grieves, and
the adventures of Tinta, the chosen one, and her loyal friend, Karwa. A
useful glossary, a list of further reading, and fine illustrations are
included. Highly recommended.


Griek, Susan Vande., “A Gift for Ampato,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/31077.