Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Ugly One

The Ugly One

Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Leanne Statland Ellis
ISBN: 978-0-547-64023-5
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Micay has a deep scar running from her right eye down to her lip, causing a permanent half frown in her expression. She keeps her black hair hanging over the damaged side of her face and remains only at the fringes of all the activities in her Incan village high in the Andes. The boys of the village torment her by calling her, Millay, meaning "the Ugly One." The worst of her tormenters is Ucho, the ringleader of the boys. Micay seeks refuge on a special rock, a "huaca" that contains spirit powers. Here she is away from everyone and can meditate and worship Inti, the sun.

Loved by her family, Micay's life is nevertheless lonely and difficult. One day, however, a stranger arrives from the faraway jungle, and he not only protects Micay from being poked hard with a stick by Ucho, he touches her scar and gives her a scraggly, ugly, baby macaw. This strange event sets her life on a new path.

Told that this macaw is named, Sumac Huanacauri, "Handsome Rainbow," Micay calls him Sumac and discovers as she cares for him that he grows into his title. He rides on her right shoulder, protecting her from abuse and covering her scar.

Set in the Andes at the height of the Inca Empire, this story addresses universal emotions in a little-known setting. Micay has no memory of how she became ugly; she just longs to be normal. One day, led by the playing of wooden pipes, she arrives at the hut of the great shaman, who has settled for reasons unknown to the villagers on the outskirts of their community. When Micay hesitates outside the hut, the Paqo called from inside, "The bird is cold, come in." Within this hut, Micay's destiny begins to unfold.

Told in the first person, the reader learns of this destiny as gradually as Micay does. With believable progression, the author brings to vivid life, through the eyes of an externally and internally scarred girl, a lost civilization.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Look for this product at:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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