Photo Travels 13: A Deadly Ball Game | Level 4 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

This original Little Fox series stars Vinnie and Mandy, who find a magical photo album in the attic of their new home. The photo album soon leads the two children on exciting journeys to the past. What will they discover in ancient Rome, the Ottoman Empire, and the land of the Samurai?


Mazatl and his father had traded all their corn. In return, they received goods their family needed. The market was closing. Most sellers were quickly wrapping up their blankets.
"What’s going on?" Mandy asked. "Mazatl, where’s Vinnie?"
"The priests will make an offering to our gods," replied Mazatl. "Follow me to the temple. I’m sure Vinnie will be there."
Vinnie heard the drums beating faster and faster. He turned and saw a parade leaving the ball court. The game was over. Men in animal costumes danced around. Some pretended to fight. Other people sang and chanted loudly. People were playing flutes too. Vinnie thought it was a victory celebration. "Who won?" he asked a young boy.
"Who cares?" replied the boy. "All the players are prisoners. Today the losers will die. But all the prisoners will be given to the gods someday soon."
The crowd was now heading toward the pyramid.
"What? The losing team is going to die?" gasped Vinnie.
"Their blood will be given to the gods," said the young boy. "In return, the gods will give us good weather for our crops."
Vinnie could not believe it!
He watched the players who had lost. Tied together, the group was being pushed forward by the temple guards. Vinnie didn’t want to see what was about to happen. But the crowd shoved him up front.
"Mandy! Mazatl!" he shouted as loud as he could. But the drums continued to beat louder. No one could hear him.
Mandy followed Mazatl to the temple.
"It’s amazing!" she remarked when she saw the tall pyramid. She asked Mazatl about the two buildings on the top.
"Those are where the sacrifices are held," he explained.
"Why are these people being killed?" she asked carefully.
"Today is a festival to honor our gods," said Mazatl.
Mandy understood. To Mazatl, the gods controlled the lives of his family. Sacrifice was important to the gods. So people had to die for the future well-being of the Aztecs.
"Mazatl, do you see Vinnie? Oh, where is he?" she cried.
"I don’t see him. He must be trapped in the crowd somewhere," replied Mazatl.
Mandy yelled for Vinnie. Worried, she ran as fast as she could toward the temple.
Meanwhile, Vinnie managed to break away from the crowd. "Whew! I can breathe!" he said, wiping his forehead. A single line of men moved slowly in front of him. Vinnie felt someone push him hard.
"Hey!" Vinnie turned angrily.
The person pushing him held a spear—it was a temple guard! Only then did Vinnie realize where he was. He was in the line to be sacrificed. He tried to explain. "There’s been a mistake!"
But the guard only pushed him forward again.

[Little Fox Introduction]

Little Fox is an award-winning library of leveled stories and songs. We create animated stories and songs to help kids to learn English easily as a second language (ESL). Visit our website,, to learn more about our unique curriculum and our thousands of digital resources.


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