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

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9780823411085: The Tree That Rains: The Flood Myth of the Huichol Indians of Mexico

A retelling of a northwest Mexico legend explains how Great-Grandmother Earth sent a great flood after warning Watakame, who survived by making a fig-tree boat, a tree that he plants after the waters have receded to start life anew.

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From School Library Journal:

Kindergarten-Grade 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
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Watakame loves to work. Faithful dog at his side, he plants, tends his fields, and prays for rain; he doesn't even complain when a new fig tree grows each night where he has just cut one down. Finally, he stays awake to see who is undoing his work and discovers ``Nakawe, Great-Grandmother Earth, she who makes things grow,'' who warns him of an impending flood. Noah-like, Watakame builds a boat of the latest tree, packs up a supply of seeds and his dog, and--with Nakawe--weathers a four-year flood. Thereafter, the dog becomes a woman and Watakame's wife while a great new fig tree ``gush[es] water from its shining leaves''; the water rises up to rain down on his crops. In Durga Bernhard's art, flat areas of desert tangerine and pink and the deeper greens and purples of night are outlined in less saturated hues to created decoratively stylized illustrations--a handsomely evocative setting for a particularly interesting myth that, a note explains, is still used in Huichol Indian ritual. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Bernhard, Emery
Published by Holiday House (1994)
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