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JAGUAR by Helen Cowcher


by Helen Cowcher & illustrated by Helen Cowcher

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-590-29937-9
Publisher: Scholastic

 When the cover is spread to its full width, two huge eyes stare from behind broad green leaves, perhaps the most striking painting in this entry from Cowcher (Tigress, 1991, etc.), who continues to address the issue of coexistence between humans and nature. Each spread becomes a wide canvas for color, shape, and form as Cowcher shows her subject--a jaguar--stalked by a hunter in the Venezuelan Llanos, a flood plain that is home to many animal, bird, and reptile species, even during the dry season. Tracks left in the dust are the key to this king of the food chain; the hunter-- worried about his cattle--follows the signs, past iguana, blue morpho butterfly, and caiman, into the forest where the jaguar, an equally expert hunter, catches a howler monkey. There is mild suspense when the man finds his prey, only to experience a transformation: ``The hunter's will to kill deserts him. He sinks to his knees in wonder at such power and beauty.'' The jaguar is spared--``The land belongs to the jaguar as much as to him.'' As in Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree (1989), noble sentiments overwhelm the story. The simplicity of the text cannot bear the complexity of such a spiritual vision, which is not explained in context, but in a note that addresses the meaning of the ``raging jaguar spirit'' to the Central and South American hunters. (Picture book. 5-8)