Award-winning author-illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh sheds light on the significance of Aztec manuscripts and culture
Our world, little brother, is an amoxtlalpan, a land of books. In the jungles where the jaguar dwells, the Mayas make books. In the mountains the cloud people, the Mixtecs, make them as well. So do others in the coast and in the forests. And we the Mexica of the mighty Aztec empire, who dwell in the valley of the volcanoes, make them too.
A young Aztec girl tells her little brother how their parents create beautiful painted manuscripts, or codices. She explains to him how paper is made from local plants and how the long paper is folded into a book. Her parents and others paint the codices to tell the story of their people’s way of life, documenting their history, science, tributes, and sacred rituals.
Duncan Tonatiuh’s lyrical prose and beloved illustration style, inspired by the pre-Columbian codices, tell the story of how—contrary to the historical narrative that European colonizers bestowed “civilization” and knowledge to the Americas—the Aztec and their neighbors in the Valley of Mexico painted books and records long before Columbus arrived, and continued doing so among their Nahua-speaking descendants for generations after the Spanish Conquest. From an award-winning author-illustrator, A Land of Books pays tribute to Mesoamerican ingenuity and celebrates the universal power of books.
About the Author
Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is an award-winning author-illustrator whose numerous accolades include the Sibert Medal and the Pura Belpré Award. Duncan is both Mexican and American. His artwork is inspired by Mesoamerican art. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but are relevant to today’s people, especially children. He grew up in and currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he celebrates Día de Muertos with his wife and children every year. Learn more at duncantonatiuh.com.
**STARRED REVIEW** "Tonatiuh’s respect and reverence for the subject shine through loud and clear as he shares knowledge of Mesoamerican books almost lost to the past. . .Utterly indispensable." — Kirkus Reviews