Quetzal: Sacred Bird of the Cloud Forest

Overview

"This unusual book looks at the quetzal from many points of view: as the ancient Aztec god Quetzalcoatl; as a source of valuable feathers throughout Mesoamerican history; as a rainforest bird of striking beauty and intriguing habits; and as an endangered animal today....The writing weaves the many strands of myth, lore, art, and natural history into a coherent narrative....Drawings add their own sense of wonder and mystery. Well researched and handsomely presented, this book offers a many-faceted study of the quetzal."—Booklist. Bibliography,

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Waldman, Neil New York 1996 Hard Cover First Edition New in New jacket 4to-over 9?"-12" tall. HB, glossy pictorial boards in like DJ, 40pp, col illus. this is a new unread copy ... and is gift suitable. Read more Show Less

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Overview

"This unusual book looks at the quetzal from many points of view: as the ancient Aztec god Quetzalcoatl; as a source of valuable feathers throughout Mesoamerican history; as a rainforest bird of striking beauty and intriguing habits; and as an endangered animal today....The writing weaves the many strands of myth, lore, art, and natural history into a coherent narrative....Drawings add their own sense of wonder and mystery. Well researched and handsomely presented, this book offers a many-faceted study of the quetzal."—Booklist. Bibliography, index, maps.

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: 9780688126629
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Wertheim graduated from the Technical College of Visual Communication in Hamburg, Germany, with a degree in illustration, and has exhibited her meticulously detailed artwork in Bologna, Italy, and Bratislava, Slovakia. Among the children's books she has illustrated is Cruesh, the Barn Owl, which she also coauthored. She lives in Haiku, Maui.

In His Own Words...

"I always knew that drawing and painting provided a magical pathway to the secret inner world of my imagination. When chaos, pain, and confusion enveloped me as a child, I would retreat to my bedroom, close the door, and sit down with crayons and a sketch pad. As I watched amazing shapes and colors pour from my crayons onto the blank sheets of paper, I could feel the fear and tension dissolve. And while I continued working at my desk, the outside world would disappear completely as I traveled along the exquisite, winding road inward.

"It is no coincidence that I chose to become a children's book illustrator. As an adult I realized that I had to earn a living, but I was also determined to spend my days doing what I loved most. Illustration has allowed me to achieve both goals. And so for me it is a magical profession. Sometimes in the early morning hours, as I float between the waking world and the world of sleep, I revel in the thrilling realization that I'm doing exactly what I loved most in kindergarten, and being paid for it.

"For me each new picture book is an adventure. During the weeks and months that I work on a story its mysteries rest in the world just behind my eyes, waiting to be revealed. Every time my mind grows quiet, I drift silently into that world. I live within the story, inhaling its fragrance, thrilling in its dance, and swaying with its rhythms. I place the manuscript on my night table and read it in the evenings before I fall asleep. Sometimes images begin swirling in my dreams. At other times they come to me when I least expect them. Once I envisioned a whole book during a terrible migraine headache.

"When the images begin to clarify, I start sketching in pencil. And when the people and places in the sketches match those in my imagination, I bring out my paints. Then my greatest fun begins, when the colors of my heart flow through my brush and appear magically before me. Sometimes the paintings take a month to complete. At other times they take more than a year. When all the paintings are finished, I spread them out on my living room floor and marvel at them.

"There are difficulties in living the life I've chosen. Sometimes I struggle for weeks or months, desperately searching for the soul of a story that continues to elude me. At other times I worry about the erratic work schedule and unsteady income. But the countless joys and thrills that tumble about me like autumn leaves make it clear that there is no other profession on earth that I would choose."

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