Quetzal: Sacred Bird of the Forest

Overview

Dorothy Patent explores the many facets of this shimmering bird, from its illustrious past to its life cycle and daily existence in the wild. Accompanied by Neil Waldman's luminous illustrations, this unique survey book examines an endangered animal that has a powerful symbolic meaning to a culture.

Provides information about the quetzal, a beautiful bird found in Mexico and Central America, and about its significance in the lives ...

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Overview

Dorothy Patent explores the many facets of this shimmering bird, from its illustrious past to its life cycle and daily existence in the wild. Accompanied by Neil Waldman's luminous illustrations, this unique survey book examines an endangered animal that has a powerful symbolic meaning to a culture.

Provides information about the quetzal, a beautiful bird found in Mexico and Central America, and about its significance in the lives and beliefs of ancient Mesoamerican peoples.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
One in a series of "sacred animal" books, this readable reference book sheds light on the quetzal, a bird revered by the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Central America, and loved still by their modern-day descendants. Author/naturalist Patent uses historical and scientific data, as well as her own personal observations of the beautiful bird. Waldman's colored-pencil illustrations are simple, warm and expressive. An excellent resource work for children studying ancient civilizations-or endangered species, since the bird's habitat is rapidly disappearing.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6The resplendent quetzal is arguably the most beautiful bird found in the Americas. It has long held deep historical, artistic, and mystical meaning for the people of the Mexican and Central American cloud forests it inhabits. Patent describes the bird's spiraling mating flight and then examines its place in pre-Columbian art and mythology, concluding with what is known of its life cycle and current endangered status. Although CIP places this book in folklore, there is enough natural history here to make it useful in the bird section. Waldman's illustrations, done in colored pencil on tinted paper, are quite lovely, with rich, glowing tones. While not strictly ornithologically correct, they do very well in showing the Maya and Aztec artworks depicting quetzals, their feathers, and the mythological feathered serpent, which was most likely, at least partially, inspired by the real bird. The creature's rarity, the inaccessibility of its habitat, and the difficulty of photographing it in the wild (quetzals do not survive well in captivity) may account for the difference in format from Patent's Wild Turkey, Tame Turkey (Clarion, 1989) and Feathers (Cobblehill, 1992), both of which have wonderful photographs. A useful title for reports on the bird or as supplementary material on the Aztecs or Mayas.Pam Gosner, Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
Carolyn Phelan
This unusual book looks at the quetzal from many points of view: as the ancient Aztec god Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent); as a source of valuable feathers throughout Mesoamerican history; as a rain-forest bird of striking beauty and intriguing habits; and as an endangered animal today. Patent begins with an introduction that emphasizes the difficulty of writing simply about a complex subject based on incomplete historical records and archaeological finds that different scholars interpret in various ways. The writing weaves the many strands of myth, lore, art, and natural history into a coherent narrative divided into five informative chapters. Throughout the book, Neil Waldman's softly shaded, colored-pencil drawings illustrate the text and add their own sense of wonder and mystery. A bibliography suggests resources for further reading. Well researched and handsomely presented, this book offers a many-faceted study of the quetzal.
Kirkus Reviews
Patent (Children Save the Rain Forest, p. 903, etc.) selects stories from the Mayan and Aztec tradition regarding the quetzal—a striking, vividly plumed bird of the rain forest—for this title in the Sacred Animal series.

In a thoughtful introduction on Mesoamerica, Patent describes how scientists rely on sparse evidence to understand early beliefs. She notes that scholars disagree, that new evidence continues to emerge, and that she has simplified the information. Following those caveats comes a brief history of major peoples of Mesoamerica, focusing on the Mayan and Aztecs. From classical Mayan culture come stories of the fabled feathered serpent, a brilliant green snake, found in writings, paintings, and carved stone columns. Patent tells of stone images that show the plumed serpent, called Quetzalcoatl, who was honored as a powerful creator. Finally comes discussion of the endangered bird, which appears in art and on the flag, stamps, and money of the region. Newcomers to the subject may have a little difficulty following this complex history. Carefully documented, handsomely presented, this book nevertheless truly links a sacred animal to the culture (or cultures) of which it is so much a part. Exquisite, realistic drawings in colored pencil illustrate the sacred bird depicted in ancient art, as well as the contemporary endangered bird and modern Mesoamericans.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688126636
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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