Madre Tierra

Book Title Madre Tierra
(Mother Earth)
Author(s) Inga Paterson-Zúñiga
Illustrator(s) Same as the author (Photographs taken by her)
Other Contributors
Published by Self published
Genre Histories and Biographies
Publication date 2020
#OwnVoices NO
From the author/publisher’s website
Perfect for novice to intermediate level Spanish learners

Total Word Count

Illustrations                  YES 
Glossary                        YES  
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                         YES  

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
Southern Mexican
Indigenous Chontal

Languages spoken

Sex and Genders
Male (main character)


Social classes
Working class
Middle Class
Sexual Orientation


Nahua cosmovision

Family Structures

Body Type

From the author/publisher’s website 

MADRE TIERRA tells the fascinating true story of a recent discovery that took place deep within the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico! Learn how it led Mario Alberto García down a life path that he would never have imagined…and how it gave him a new appreciation for the gifts of Mother Earth! As you learn more about this discovery, you will gain new insight into the tenacity of our ancestors, their strong faith, and their desire to protect a legacy. 

To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The images in the form of photographs taken by the author are good representations of Taxco as a “Pueblo Mágico.” There are several pictures representing indigenous Chontales in the mine praying to la Madre Tierra (pp. 41-42) or mining (pp. 37-38). It is unclear if these pictures were taken in the present, in the past, if they are part of the tour of the mine, if the people portrayed in the photographs provided consent, and whether they were compensated. Clarifying information and more context around these specific pictures would be appreciated.
We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?

1. Risk of tokenizing indigenous cultures

This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance

Madre Tierra is a book about the “discovery” of the Taxco mine, its history, and the relationship between Indigenous Chontales and the Nahua goddess “Tonántzin,” also known as “La Virgen de Guadalupe” due to a very complex syncretism between Nahua cosmovision and imposed catholic beliefs by the Spaniards. 

The book delivers what was promised: students can educate themselves with the life-changing testimony from Mario Alberto Garcìa, and learn about the mutual love and respect between Mother Earth and the inhabitants of Guerrero. Furthermore, the book contains diagrams and footnotes to assist readers. The glossary is ample. The contrast of common grammar is right for the levels, including the use of “Presente Histórico” in which the author clearly tries to avoid the uses of Preterit/Imperfect to avoid confusions.

Students and teachers need to be aware that the story is based on recent archaeological discoveries. The mine was created and used by indigenous people, but now, they are doing displays of work/tours in this mine for tourism’s sake.

The photographs from the author need context about the indigenous Chontal:  who is he, and what is the intent/impact of displaying the chants and rituals of “Madre Tierra”. Otherwise, this can lead to many assumptions about the person and the Chontales as a people in terms of wealth, class, education, etc. The indigenous Chontal person, Dos Serpientes, from the book pictures can also be seen here as part of the mining tour.

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