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The Tree That Rains: The Flood Myth of the Huichol Indians of Mexico

The Tree That Rains: The Flood Myth of the Huichol Indians of Mexico

by Emery Bernhard, Durga Bernhard (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Told with little panache, this Noah's Ark-like folktale will likely leave the reader at sea, floundering for some sort of context. Watakame, a Huichol Indian, sees that a fig tree he had chopped down the day before has grown back. The perpetrator, Great-Grandmother Earth, explains that she was showing him the futility of his labor because ``the people have forgotten the gods, and a great flood is coming.'' She directs him to build an ark, stock it with seeds and coal, and bring his faithful dog. After the flood recedes, Watakame replants the earth, and a great fig tree waters the fields. In an odd addendum, his dog turns out to be a woman, with whom he then populates the world. Propping up the story is an arresting visual mix of the ancient and contemporary, rendered in a vivid, Mexican palette. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Hard-working Watakame is favored by Great-Grandmother Earth, Nakawe, with a warning that a flood is coming to punish the people who have forgotten the gods. Following her instructions to carve a boat out of the trunk of a fig tree, Watakame and his faithful dog survive the five-year inundation. Then he re-seeds the earth. When he discovers that his dog sheds her skin to become a woman while he is away, Watakame burns the skin and soothes the crying woman, naming her Taxiwa. Together they repopulate the planet. This flood myth of Mexico's Huichol people focuses on the positive-the hero, rather than on the sinful flood victims. There is something inherently poignant about the swan maiden/ seal maiden (dog maiden) motif, since the woman must be deprived of her animal identity in order to become a wife and mother. Both the story and the muted gouache paintings, done in a clearly outlined, simple, elusively Mexican folk style, are very attractive. A fine addition.-Patricia Dooley, formerly at University of Washington, Seattle
Karen Hutt
Great-grandmother Earth warns hardworking Watakame about the flood that is coming because the people have forgotten the gods. Watakame prepares as instructed, and after five years of rain, he is rewarded with abundant crops, a wife, and children. The great fig tree that grew after the flood and gushes water from its leaves became known as the Tree That Rains. It is still visited today by the Huichol people, who bring offerings and thanks. Brightly colored illustrations resembling Central American Indian yarn-paintings will draw youngsters into this Huichol myth, which is told every year at the Festival of the New Corn and Squash. Sources notes are appended.

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
10.31(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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