Patent (Children Save the Rain Forest, p. 903, etc.) selects stories from the Mayan and Aztec tradition regarding the quetzal--a striking, vividly plumed bird of the rain forest--for this title in the Sacred Animal series. In a thoughtful introduction on Mesoamerica, Patent describes how scientists rely on sparse evidence to understand early beliefs. She notes that scholars disagree, that new evidence continues to emerge, and that she has simplified the information. Following those caveats comes a brief history of major peoples of Mesoamerica, focusing on the Mayan and Aztecs. From classical Mayan culture come stories of the fabled feathered serpent, a brilliant green snake, found in writings, paintings, and carved stone columns. Patent tells of stone images that show the plumed serpent, called Quetzalcoatl, who was honored as a powerful creator. Finally comes discussion of the endangered bird, which appears in art and on the flag, stamps, and money of the region. Newcomers to the subject may have a little difficulty following this complex history. Carefully documented, handsomely presented, this book nevertheless truly links a sacred animal to the culture (or cultures) of which it is so much a part. Exquisite, realistic drawings in colored pencil illustrate the sacred bird depicted in ancient art, as well as the contemporary endangered bird and modern Mesoamericans.