A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is a great introduction to Mesoamerican mythology, and it gives kids a more diverse cultural knowledge base. Text uses words from the Nahuatl language (spoken by ancient Aztecs and surviving Mesoamerican indigenous groups). Informative author's note and helpful glossary with pronunciations and meanings of terms.
While on an adventure or quest, it's important to persevere and stay determined, but you'll also need to rely on the support of wise and helpful companions. Even powerful beings like gods must practice to reach their goals. Mistakes are not failures; they can serve other purposes and help us learn to do better the next time.
Positive Role Models
Main character Quetzalcóatl, the feathered serpent god of knowledge, shows cleverness and resourcefulness on his quest to create humanity. He accepts help from Xólotl, the god of dusk, and he's relentless in his pursuit of his goal. Gods are all presumed male.
Violence & Scariness
Quetzalcóatl faces dangerous river crossings, skin-slicing volcanic rock, snowy mountain passes, and a rain of arrows, among other things, as well as a bloody fall, but text and pictures depict characters' resourcefulness in enduring these trials, which de-emphasizes their scariness, and they're not graphic (blood is represented by a light red halo in the dirt around a body).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, tells the epic story of Quetzalcóatl's quest to create humans. The god of knowledge is not prepared to give up after he and the other gods fail to create humans as they intended. He collects some special items for luck and sets out on the long journey to the underworld to collect the sacred bones of creation. He faces scary obstacles, such as swimming through water hiding an ancient monster and suffering a bloody injury in a fall, but pictures and text emphasize resourcefulness and lack even implied gore. Typical of heroic quests, positive messages emphasize determination and perseverance. This book will enrich the diversity of any kid's love of mythology and adventure stories.
Is It Any Good?
This captivating tale about a hero's quest to bring forth humanity has all the elements of an epic myth. There's a clever hero pure of heart, impossible obstacles to overcome, and an adversary who nearly ruins it all. And with Tonatiuh's stunning, Aztec-inspired, hand-drawn and digitally collaged pictures, Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns will be loved by young and older readers alike.
Though there's certainly expert storytelling at play, it is the art that really shines here. True to what's seen in ancient Aztec ruins, the pictures have the familiar clean symmetry and characters in profile, and author-illustrator DuncanTonatiuh's characters and landscapes really come alive in this retelling. Each spread reflects the mood of the text with warm, inviting colors on the pages of attempted creation, and starker, cooler colors dominating as Quetzalcóatl approaches the underworld. The art is immersive and a delight to revisit. The clarity and economy of the text commands appreciation, and along with the wonderful illustrations, makes Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns an instant classic.
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