Retold by: María Christina Brusca & Tona Wilson
Illustrated by: María Christina Brusca
Published in 1995
Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book
Grade Level: 1-4
Summary: When Jaguars Ate the Moon is a collection of short Native American tales relating to plants and animals. The stories are arranged alphabetically by subject, from anteaters to zompopos. There is at least one story per letter, all of which are based on traditional stories from the Americas.
This is a delightful collection of short stories that would fit perfectly into a social studies unit on European colonization. Each story has the corresponding name of the Native American group and their locations listed at the bottom of the page. Other plants and animals (which aren’t included in the stories) are drawn and labelled along the tops of the pages. For example, on the “Pumpkins from Elk Hairs” page, plants such as potatoes, pineapples, and pecans are also displayed.
The illustrations in this book were hit and miss for me. There were pages I loved and pages that I found somewhat boring. I did really like the cover though, which is part of the reason I brought it home with me.
The book is laid out very nicely, with very few blocks of white space. The margins are filled in with pictures of plants and animals, but it’s not overwhelming like in some other books (see my review on Hooray for Inventors!). It’s well balanced.
As far as he stories themselves are concerned, I found them enjoyable and easy to read. The only problems I had were when I was unfamiliar with the animal names, so I had to study the pictures to figure out which animal was which.
Final Thoughts: I could definitely see myself using this book in my classroom. The stories are short and interesting, so the book could be spread out over several days. The illustrations weren’t always the best, but the content of the stories made up for that fact.
I give When Jaguars Ate the Moon four stars.