At the start of things, the elders say, the universe was hushed and still. The moon alone shone bright and round in the star-speckled dark of the sky. David Álvarez is one of the most extraordinary artists working today. His black-and-white illustrations have gained fame in his home country of Mexico and around the world. Here, in Ancient Night (Noche Antigua), David displays his immense talent with full-color illustrations for the first time. Ancient Night is a twist on two Nahuatl traditions: the rabbit which the Feathered Serpent placed on the moon, and Yaushu, the Lord Opossum who ruled the earth before humans came, and who stole fire from the gods to create the sun. Award-winning author David Bowles has written a poetic text – and carefully researched backmatter – to accompany David’s lush illustrations and story. Published simultaneously in English and Spanish editions, Ancient Night offers young readers everywhere the chance to savor this ancient tale in its most beautiful format possible. P R A I S E A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard ★ "Bolstered by the ethereal, whimsical text, the plush, incandescent acrylic and oil paint artwork gathers the subtleties and splendors of nighttime and the plant life that surrounds Rabbit and Opossum. Together words and images tug readers along at a measured pace. An excellent authors’ note underscores how common strands and crucial differences from wide-ranging Mesoamerican legends and myths furnish the inspiration at the roots of this tale. Like a mighty dream recalled from time gone by." —Kirkus (starred) ★ "Luminous acrylic and oil illustrations bring the night to life... Enchanting text presents the tale in short, clear sentences that convey a sense of timeless mystery and beauty... An excellent choice for picture book collections that uniquely explores traditional Mesoamerican tales and is sure to inspire the wish for further discovery and appreciation." —School Library Journal (starred) ★ “Bowles’ spare, evocative text flows like poetry… Álvarez’s compositions are sophisticated and uncluttered… beautifully crafted, gently stylized figures so remarkably textured that you can almost count the number of hairs on Rabbit’s body. Ancient Night is wondrous, sparkling and easily one of the best picture books of 2023.” —BookPage (starred) ★ “Bowles’s unhurried lines offer a playfully elegant feel to the telling, while Álvarez’s saturated digitized paintings use a limited palette to imagine long-eared, gray Rabbit and pointy-nosed, rust-hued Opossum against luminous leafy landscapes. Together, the collaborators create a dreamlike story variation that truly shines.” —Publishers Weekly (starred) ★ “Unmissable… The breathtaking illustrations exude light themselves…” —Foreword Reviews (starred) ★ “Stunning illustrations by acclaimed Mexican artist Álvarez feature a velvety black backdrop of a sky, stars providing only pinpricks of light...spellbinding, poetic text is lyrical but crisp.” —Horn Book (starred) “A calming selection for evening lap reads and storytimes.” —BCCB “A perfect bedtime read aloud. This Mesoamerican-inspired fable borrows from old tales for a larger-than-life yet soothingly illustrated picture book.” —Shelf-Awareness “Exquisite.” —Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup “Álvarez’s illustrations alone are enough to make this stunning picture book a winner—the dreamy feel of the milky moonlight against the deep-dark night and the crisp simplicity of the animals and their world is masterful. When paired with interwoven traditional Mesoamerican tales of the magic and power of our lunar companion, the story sings, enchanting readers with its mystery and beauty. Don’t miss this one!” —Southern Bookseller Review
In this twined variation of several Mesoamerican stories, the earth's firmament is lit every evening thanks to Rabbit, who climbs down the Great Ceiba's trunk and treks across the "sea-ringed world" to gather aguamiel, the "precious, glowing nectar... of the first and holy maguey." Rabbit then pours the gleaming liquid into the moon, portrayed as a double-handled gourd. But when crafty Opossum cracks the moon and steals the aguamiel for himself, the orb loses its radiance, and the now-regretful animal must find a way to illuminate the world. Having been caught out by Rabbit, Opossum makes a trek of his own: "searching for that fire/ prepared by mighty gods/ as a gift for future humans/ who might shiver in the dark." Bowles's unhurried lines offer a playfully elegant feel to the telling, while Álvarez's saturated digitized paintings use a limited palette to imagine long-eared, gray Rabbit and pointy-nosed, rust-hued Opossum against luminous leafy landscapes. Together, the collaborators create a dreamlike story variation that truly shines. An authors' note details the story's roots. English and Spanish versions publish simultaneously. Ages 4–8.
Cutest book ever