Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth
Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth

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Annotation: Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings an ancient Mesoamerican creation myth to life Long ago, the ... more
Catalog Number: #239012
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-419-74677-4 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8661-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-419-74677-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8661-4
Dewey: 809
LCCN: 2019040894
Dimensions: 23 x 28 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
The elders say that humanity currently resides in the fifth tonatiuh, or sun. Here’s the story of how humans came to be.The preceding four tonatiuhs bore witness to failed trials. First, the gods covered sacred bones with mud, but these giant humans proved too fragile, becoming mountains in the end. The second set of humans, smaller than the first, developed into fish. Under the third tonatiuh, the enraged gods turned the rebellious humans into monkeys. The fourth tonatiuh resulted in the latest, lazy humans assuming the form of birds. At this point, the gods conceded any hope of creating humans, all except for Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent. Taking along his staff, shield, cloak, and shell ornament, Feathered Serpent travels to Mictlán, the underworld, to retrieve the sacred bones from Mictlantecuhtli, the lord of the underworld. To reach where Mictlantecuhtli dwells, Feathered Serpent journeys through nine regions, each region a test of his bravery and perseverance. Accompanied by a dog spirit guide named Xólotl, Feathered Serpent succeeds in his journey. Full of warm landscapes bathed under the sun’s light, multicolored night skies set against stars, and cavernous walls of rugged browns, Tonatiuh’s artwork—familiar in form, electric in spirit—astonishes in this retelling of a Mesoamerican creation story. Told with succinct clarity and a hint of mischief, this rendition begs for rereads. Here’s a new high-water mark for the artist. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads reviewed at 77.1% of actual size.)Simply spellbinding. (author’s note, glossary, select bibliography) (Picture book/cosmology. 6-9)
Publishers Weekly
Through four tonatiuhs (suns, or epochs), the Mesoamerican gods try to create humans, covering sacred bones with mud and corn paste. After their attempts result in mountains, birds, monkeys, and fish, however (-the mud would slip off their bones and slide into the rivers and lakes-), the gods -gave the sacred bones to Mictlantecuhtli, the lord of the underworld, to keep. But Quetzalcóatl-Feathered Serpent-the god of knowledge, did not want to give up.- In strong, spare language, Tonatiuh relates Feathered Serpent-s journey through nine forbidding regions, including -Temiminalóyan, the field where it rains arrows,- to retrieve the bones. Accompanied by spirit guide Xólotl, a dog, Feathered Serpent outwits Mictlantecuhtli. Though he breaks the bones, he invents humans using the broken pieces and the gods- blood: -It is said by the elders that we are the descendants of those humans and that we are living in the fifth tonatiuh.- Hand-drawn, digitally collaged art, incorporating Mesoamerican styles and motifs, deepens the power of Tonatiuh-s tale, a tantalizing slice of Mesoamerica-s rich stories. Includes author-s note and glossary with a pronunciation guide. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
The elders say that humanity currently resides in the fifth tonatiuh, or sun. Here’s the story of how humans came to be.The preceding four tonatiuhs bore witness to failed trials. First, the gods covered sacred bones with mud, but these giant humans proved too fragile, becoming mountains in the end. The second set of humans, smaller than the first, developed into fish. Under the third tonatiuh, the enraged gods turned the rebellious humans into monkeys. The fourth tonatiuh resulted in the latest, lazy humans assuming the form of birds. At this point, the gods conceded any hope of creating humans, all except for Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent. Taking along his staff, shield, cloak, and shell ornament, Feathered Serpent travels to Mictlán, the underworld, to retrieve the sacred bones from Mictlantecuhtli, the lord of the underworld. To reach where Mictlantecuhtli dwells, Feathered Serpent journeys through nine regions, each region a test of his bravery and perseverance. Accompanied by a dog spirit guide named Xólotl, Feathered Serpent succeeds in his journey. Full of warm landscapes bathed under the sun’s light, multicolored night skies set against stars, and cavernous walls of rugged browns, Tonatiuh’s artwork—familiar in form, electric in spirit—astonishes in this retelling of a Mesoamerican creation story. Told with succinct clarity and a hint of mischief, this rendition begs for rereads. Here’s a new high-water mark for the artist. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads reviewed at 77.1% of actual size.)Simply spellbinding. (author’s note, glossary, select bibliography) (Picture book/cosmology. 6-9)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Acclaimed author and illustrator Tonatiuh (Soldier for Equality, 2019) revives an ancient Mesoamerican creation story in his signature style, blurring the distance between the old and the new. According to the legend, the gods made four attempts to create humans before giving up and sending the sacred bones to Mictlantecuhtli, lord of the underworld. This did not sit well with the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl, the god of knowledge, who set off to rescue the bones and create humans. Like all good legendary heroes, he must overcome obstacles both natural and magical before arriving at his destination. Through this journey, readers come to know the topography, flora, and fauna of the area. Tonatiuh's narrative is fresh, even humorous at times, and Quetzalcoatl feels more human than divine. Accompanied by the spirit dog Xolotl, he accomplishes his task, and for better or worse, humans come into being. While the tale itself will appeal to lovers of adventure and myth, the author's note adds an important historical and cultural depth that should not be bypassed. Feathered Serpent has all the literary elements of a good story and can be used to teach genre, narrative, history, or just quality literature.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3

Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings an ancient Mesoamerican creation myth to life Long ago, the gods of Mesoamerica set out to create humans. They tried many times during each sun, or age. When all their attempts failed and the gods grew tired, only one did not give up: Quetzalc atl--the Feathered Serpent. To continue, he first had to retrieve the sacred bones of creation guarded by Mictlantecuhtli, lord of the underworld. Gathering his staff, shield, cloak, and shell ornament for good luck, Feathered Serpent embarked on the dangerous quest to create humankind. Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of Feathered Serpent, one of the most important deities in ancient Mesoamerica. With his instantly recognizable, acclaimed art style and grand storytelling, Tonatiuh recounts a thrilling creation tale of epic proportions.


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