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Lilus Kikus and Other Stories

Region: Latin America, Mexico

Author: Elena Poniatowska

Original Language: Spanish

Translator: Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez 

Illustrator: Lenora Carrington

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Age: 13+ years old


Lilus Kikus and Other Stories is a collection featuring the short novel, Lilus Kikus, and four short stories written by the feminist Mexican writer, Elena Poniatowska. Lilus Kikus, originally published in 1954, follows the life of a whimsical and inquisitive little girl named Lilus. Lilus is always curious and eager to learn about the world around her. Her favorite thing to do is “nothing,” which involves simply observing things, like lizards, shells on the beach, and her next-door neighbor. Unlike her father, she feels trapped when following a rigid schedule. However, Lilus’s life changes when she is sent off to convent school. She does not want to go, for she is afraid that all of the things she loves about her life, like playing freely and openly being herself, will disappear. Without much of a choice in the matter, she goes and ultimately decides to give herself to God completely. This story is often quite funny, but with a dark undertone. Poniatowska, through Lilus's observations of the world around her, subtly weaves societal commentary within the novel about how women and young girls were expected to behave in 1940s Mexico. Professor of Latin American and Latino studies and the translator of this collection, Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez, states: "Lilus Kikus holds up a mirror to represent female repression in Mexican society." Martinez delivers a powerful and in-depth introduction to Poniatowska, the themes of her work at large and the contents of this book, and the artist, Lenora Carrington. Martinez compiled the following four short stories, "The Philosopher's Daughter", "Fifth Call", and "You Arrive by Nightfall," to accompany Lilus Kikus, as they all explore the central theme of women and young girls "seeking identity and meaning in her society." Artist, Leonora Carrington, illustrates the pages of this book with black and white sketches that provide a further glimpse into Lilus's perspective. Due to the mature content and themes of this book, it may be more easily understood by readers 13 years and older.  

More About This Book

Reviewed: e-book by University of New Mexico Press (2005). ISBN- 9780826335814. 135 p.

*The illustrations are not available in the kindle version of this book.


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Reviewed by: Leah Byrnes

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