THE SAD NIGHT by Sally Schofer Mathews


The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss
Age Range: 6 - 9
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 Mathews's first is a capsule history of the rise and fall of the Aztec Empire, focusing on La Noche Triste--June 30, 1520--when CortÇs, retreating from its capital Tenochtitlan, lost two-thirds of his men, most of his weaponry, and the Aztec treasure in the waters of Lake Texcoco. A year later he laid siege to the city and destroyed it. The treasure was never recovered; presumably it lies under Mexico City, built on Tenochtitlan's ruins and the filled-in lake bed. The complicated, eventful story is dramatically (and even poetically) condensed and retold, though background information may be needed to explain both sides' motivations and maneuvers. Likewise, the striking authenticity of the ink-and-watercolor illustrations may not be fully appreciated without some understanding of the conventions of Aztec glyphs and codex art. Intriguing details that may need elucidation include the floating gardens (``chinampas''), priests smeared with black ointment, and smoke belching from the volcano Popocatapetl. Human sacrifice is mentioned but not illustrated, nor is its importance in Aztec life (or the importance of warfare to secure sacrificial victims) emphasized. Excellent as a supplement to instructional units and as an introduction to Aztec art. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 18th, 1994
ISBN: 0-395-63035-5
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994