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Mayan Folktales Comment Wall

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Link to Mayan Folktales storybook

Image information: Lake Atitlán photo from Stefano Ravalli on Flickr.


  1. Hi Catherine, I read the introduction for your Mayan Folktales storybook and I really enjoyed it. I loved the way that you can tell the personality of this little 10-year-old and how much she loves to read. The descriptive way that you described Martina’s surroundings made it feel as if I could actually picture how the area looked like. I also really loved the way that you ended your introduction by adding that little detail of Martina seeing something in the water as it makes it seem as something magical is going to happen when she falls asleep. The last paragraph of the introduction also makes me curious as I think about what stories that Martina read in the book and wonder if the scenes of those stories will show up while she’s sleeping. Overall, I think that you did a fantastic job of creating a setting for your stories that acts as a great transition to your first story.

  2. Hi Catherine! I just came from reading your project introduction.

    First off, I really like the approach you took with this introduction. Diving right into the story and giving details in an expository way rather than just explaining everything in a formal way. The applied narrative keeps it interesting.

    Also, I really love the main character, Martina! I hope she remains the main character throughout your storybook, I think that the combination of telling these stories through her perspective works.

    I also really felt for her, always love an underdog character. However, I was kind of confused as to why she was treated the way she was by her teachers and her peers. You briefly mention her not being able to go to recess and being called to the principal's office, but to me she is just a kid who has yet to display any bad traits or behavioral problems. I think it would allow the reader to grasp her position a bit more if you perhaps went into a little bit of detail about why she gets sent to the principal's office and such.

    I also like how she drifts off to sleep at the end, it set it up nicely for a good dreams about Mayan Folktales if that's the direction you're going in.

    Overall, I really enjoyed your introduction! Good job!

  3. Hi Catherine,
    That introduction is great. I really feel interested now in Martina and I like that it seems like we'll have her as the sort of overarching narrative for the stories. It is fun that you included the face in the water before she sleeps. It makes me feel like there is an ambiguity in whether or not the stories will be real or just dreams. The little details you add also do a lot to contribute to the setting. It really does feel like Martina has lived in this place and is a real person. Personally, I also like her book choice. My dad used to read The Boxcar Children to me as a kid (though it's been so long I do not remember much of it). The teacher having the kids choose a book made me feel nostalgic as well. My teachers would do a similar thing, although they went by last name, so I relate to Martina in having the last pick. I ended up reading a lot of the Animorphs series out of order that way. Although I feel like this intro would benefit from its own author’s note because I would like some more background information on the setting, and I feel like trying to include that in the story could make it a little exposition-heavy. Regardless, I look forward to seeing this story develop.

  4. Hi Catherine!
    Your introduction has me excited to read your stories! You provided wonderful details and gave your readers an idea of your writing style. You are very descriptive and it was easy for me to picture everything from Martina, her classmates and the ratty book she had to choose.
    I feel sorry for Martina, it seems she is being ostracized from her peers and teachers. I would like to know why she is so poorly behaved. Is there a backstory to this?
    I hope you keep telling Martina's story. I would like to know what kind of old book she chose. Is it magical? When she drifts off to sleep, will her dreams become real? I like that she saw a mysterious face before she fell asleep.
    I am excited to read your stories. Good job!

  5. Hi Catherine!
    You definitely know how to write a great introduction! You provided so many small details that actually contributed to who the main character was and her emotions and state of mind. I love that you're telling Martina's story. To me she felt a little lonely and lost and was outed as a kid that didn't listen, but it sounded like she was a kid that had to grow up too fast, and wanted to feel young and free as the book made her feel. I though this story so far had so much emotion it was so compelling. I can't wait to see what the goddess does and if Martina has the chance to go on an adventure and experience life the way she wants to. I know this is a dream, but I hope she finds some reality in it.

  6. Howdy Catherine!
    I really enjoyed reading your introduction and first story. The premise of your story book (a child coming into possession of an ancient book and being transported into a fairy tale world, or possibly just dreaming) reminds me a lot of the kind of story books I would read as a kid. Going through your introduction, I was instantly transported back to those days of reading in my elementary school library. You also do an amazing job with your description of the settings--I could vividly imagine every part of sitting out by Lake Atitlan (is that somewhere you have been in real life?). Last but not least, I was very intrigued by your placing of all the author's notes on their own separate page at the end. I wasn't sure how it would work, but after reading your story book, I think it might me something I want to try myself. By moving all your author's notes to the very end, you avoid pulling the reader out of the flow of the overall story which is really useful in your specific case since it seems each story continues immediately after the last with no break in-between.

  7. Hi Catherine! I just got done reading your introduction and your first story. I really liked how you sat up your introduction and it did a good job of telling your readers about the main character. I really enjoyed your first story and I am excited to see what is going to happen. Everything seemed so realistic. I liked that you used "The Box Car Children" as a book that the little girl wanted to read. It made the story seem real because I read all of those books as a child. I am glad that you had her get a different book though to keep things interesting. I also like that your storybook is set up simply. It is easier to read than if it had a lot going on. Overall I really enjoyed reading your intro and your first story and I am intrigued to see what will happen next! Great work!

  8. Hi Catherine. I just read your introduction and first story. What I liked about the introduction is how you effectively convey Martina's feeling. It really helps the audience to sympathize with her especially when she eventually does not get the book she wanted to read. I also like in the introduction how you switch the language up at certain points. It really helps to immerse the reader in the story. Shifting focus to the first story, I liked how you spent the first paragraph to set the scene with vivid details. It helps the reader to really imagine what Martina is seeing when she wakes up on the beach. I really liked the stories of the two people that Martina met on the beach. Despite them having being very different stories they still seem very similar. For example, both stories deal with tragedies on the lake. Additionally, the storytellers themselves are very mysterious. Overall a great story that I enjoyed reading.

  9. Hi Catherine!
    I like all the cultural aspects embedded in your story. Not only is it a fun tale to read, but it also shows you a little bit about Guatemalan culture. Your introduction was a nice set up for the story, especially for explaining how Martina ended up with that old book. When Martina didn't get the book she wanted, I felt bad. I know a lot of kids in school that didn't always exceed academically, but they still had interests. Reading is probably a good escape for Martina, as she has already been identified as a problem child. The first story had a lot of vivid imagery, you did really well with painting the backdrop from start to finish. Martina got to take a step into a world that people have only heard of in tales. I wonder if Martina would somehow actually have the necklace the goddess had tried to give her. Are you planning on using the dream sequence for the other stories as well? I think dreams as a setting are really fun for stories because anything could happen. Best of luck with the rest of your stories~

  10. Hey Catharine,
    I just finished reading your storybook up through the First Dream and I am really into it! I love how you took a real world book and were able to integrate it into your story so seamlessly and was a muse for inspiration not only in your writing but also for the characters within your writing. I would love to see somewhere on your page a picot of the book (or a book which looks older to fill its place and better fit within your narrative) to help the reader visualize the significance of it within your text. Also, while on the topic of images, I was a little confused by the image you chose for the First Dream. I may have misread or may be misunderstanding, but I was under the impression that the bottom of the lake looked very similar to the world above, but your picture was simply that on an ordinary lakebed. Was this intentional as symbolism that what she experienced was not actually happening? Or was there another motivation for this image in this context? I'm anxious to see what else you have to write and where else this story will be going!

  11. Hi Catherine!

    I've already commented on your introduction before but I really was intrigued with it and loved seeing where you went in terms of the first dream. It was really cool that she was able to experience something that a lot of kids only *dream* about. I hope theres some sort of reality for Martina. It would be interesting to see how this adventure will change her. Will she possibly stop being the problem child? I think it's nice that her emotions are being filled with new adventures since she did express her sadness when her parents died. It definitely ties into how she's misunderstood which is partly why I hope it's not all just a dream for her!

  12. Hey Catherine,
    After reading the introduction to your storybook Mayan Folktales, I am getting big Magic Treehouse vibes. I loved this book series as a kid and I expect Martina to be taken to a different world by the book she acquired.
    After reading the next couple of stories, I see that my prediction was slightly wrong, but you're kind of in similar territory. I like the idea of the main character having dreams which retell the stories from folklore. I also like how you added the author's note as a separate story at the end. Personally, I have been adding one at the end of each story. I realized when reading your storybook that I feel immersed in the story world since there was no "break" to take by reading an author's note. I waited until the very end to read it for this reason.

  13. Catherine,

    Hello! I thought your stories were very interesting! I really was intrigued with the First Dream and how people who drowned in the lake are now just living underwater. It's a very interesting idea!! I thought your images were suiting for your stories and gave great visuals for the reader. After reading the first story, I wasn't too sure what was happening. I thought the book might have some sort of magical abilities or if Martina was just actually dreaming. I am interested into hearing what happens next in the storybook. Did the teacher ever read the book Martina received? Was there another reason the teacher did not care about that book in particular? I liked your author's notes as well. You do a great job of explaining the things happening in the stories, how they relate to the original, and also the meaning behind terms used throughout the storybook.

  14. Hello there, Catherine.

    I've actually been to Guatemala before, so I'm glad I chose to read your stories today. You have a very easy to read writing style. I really like that! It's funny, I've never heard the name Martina until this year, and now I've encountered another.

    Your paragraph spacing is great. I really enjoy the story in a story style. Martina walking down the street felt very familiar and understandable to me. I was never a delinquent in school, but I did really enjoy reading. There was a time where I would finish my work as quickly as possible so I could get back to reading. Everything changed when I finished all my books, and school was no longer confined to one classroom.

    I didn't get the chance to learn about the culture very much when I was in Guatemala. I was exposed to poverty and smiles, but I never toured any ancient Mayan ruins. I'd like to go back. It would be difficult to go back and not be of service, however.

  15. Hi Catherine!

    I think that your concept is actually super interesting. As a child my grandpa used to tell me Mayan folktales a lot actually, so I have always had a fascination about them. (I don't know why, my grandpa just really enjoyed storytelling and would have a lot of stories to give us). I think it is really interesting how you formatted this like dreams throughout the stories. I also love how you have your author's note formatted so that we can go to another page to see what your thoughts are on your own writing. I like how all of the stories are connected but different. Having the dreams as the connector, but then each dream fueling another story that is unique from the same genre is super interesting. I love that you have done this with your storybook!

  16. Hi Catherine,
    I love your stories so far! I love the ambiguity of whether her dreams are magical or just the result of a child’s overactive imagination. You also have a lot of little details that add so much to the story, such as the food they are eating and that her sister plays football. It makes everything in these characters’ lives feel so much more real. I also like the dialogue focused storytelling in the dream sequences, especially in the second story. The character of San Simon is so interesting to me, I might have to research him later when I have the time. Your stories flow very well, and I am looking forward to reading the last one once it is up. I like how the earthquake dueño is burly and wears brown clothing to be reminiscent of the earth. Is there a particular significance to Martina becoming a cat instead of a hummingbird like San Simon?

  17. Hi Catherine!
    I loved your storybook, particularly how you wrapped it up - tying the end of the storybook to your main character finishing a book of folklore was a really elegant structural decision. Truly the whole of this storybook is really well done: I love the concept, your use of dialogue, and some of your imagery is so crisply described that I could really imagine what you were talking about. But in the spirit of useful feedback, I did have a couple of questions: in the first dream, why wasn't Martina more concerned for the figures she encountered? She seems pretty inexpressive in these situations, and it seems the only emotional response she has to the young boy who lost his family was exasperation at his superstition. A broader question I have is, why is Martina so particularly connected with these stories? She seems to be somewhat imbued with the local magic, but I wasn't sure why exactly she was special in this way - or maybe she's not special, her eyes were just opened to the local magic by these stories and so she's closer to it? Maybe this doesn't need to be made clear, I was just curious what you were thinking!
    Anyway, this is a really beautiful storybook, and I genuinely enjoyed reading it! I'll have to check out the book you used for your source material, and can't wait to read more Guatemalan folktales.

  18. Hi Catherine!
    I am so glad that I returned to this storybook and was able to finish reading your stories! I have always enjoyed stories about people getting list in dreams. Sometimes they really do feel real. Your storybook is well written and captivating. I wanted to know more of the stories that Martina read and what was so magical about the book. I love that each story is a different dream, and that she keeps going to her home but it isn't what it seems. Your stories are very descriptive. How when the boy reached for food and his arm passed through hers. Were the people ghosts? She seemed to think they were not alive. Was it because she knew it was a dream? I love how she had items from each of the dreams in the bottom of her bag. That makes the reader question. Was it real? Great job!


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