Tales from the Rainforest: Myths and Legends from the Amazonian Indians of Brazil

Mercedes Dorson, Editor, Jeanne Wilmot Carter, Editor, Jeanne Wilmot, Retold by Ecco $18 (133p) ISBN 978-0-88001-567-7
This timely collection of 10 tales from the Amazonian Indians of Brazil carefully preserves the lore of an imperiled culture. As the introduction explains, the central themes revolve around the importance of ""respecting the needs of the jungle""; accordingly, the main characters are animals, humans descended from animals, and humans turned into plants. The forest setting is inseparable from the narratives, as in an entry in which the (human) daughter of the Great Water Serpent secures the gift of night for the world: ""Moonbeams lit the way for the newly born jaguar. Night owls hunted, and the hum of bat wings comforted the daughter."" The generally lyrical storytelling occasionally fractures when the authors introduce and then translate Amerindian and Portuguese words in text (""He was a rowdy old spirit.... A cask of caxiri, a rum made of manioc flour, rested against his body""). Interpretative notes at the end of each story and the scholarly-length bibliography strengthen the educational tone; the use of primarily 19th-century lithographs and engravings as illustrations underscores rather than lightens the authors' seriousness of purpose. An excellent resource, this volume seems best suited to the classroom or library shelf. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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