Cover image for Gods and goddesses of the ancient Maya
Gods and goddesses of the ancient Maya
Fisher, Leonard Everett.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, 1999.
Physical Description:
30 unnumbered pages ; 30 cm
Gives the history of the principal gods and goddesses of the ancient Mayans, including Hunab Ku, Itzamna, Ixtab, and Ah Puch.
Reading Level:
IG 910 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.0 0.5 49784.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.8 2 Quiz: 30894 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1435.3.R3 F47 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F1435.3.R3 F47 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F1435.3.R3 F47 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F1435.3.R3 F47 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Oversize

On Order



This book tells the history of the principal gods and goddesses of the ancient Mayans, including Hunab Ku, Itzamna, Ix Tab, and Ah Puch.

Author Notes

Leonard Everett Fisher is a well-known and prolific author and illustrator of children's books. He has also written for adults and created illustrations for magazines. In addition, Fisher was dean of the Whitney School of Art and a visiting professor at a number of schools.

Fisher was born in 1927 in the Bronx, New York, and started to draw as a small child. After graduating from high school, he studied at Brooklyn College and then entered the army where he worked with a mapmaker. He holds a B.F.A. and a M.F.A. from Yale University.

The first book that Fisher illustrated was The Exploits of Xenophon, written by Geoffrey Household and published in 1955. Fisher then illustrated and wrote numerous books himself. He is well known for the Colonial Americans series, for the Nineteenth-Century America series for young adults, and for many other nonfiction works. He has written two works for adults-Masterpieces of American Painting (1985) and Remington and Russell (1986).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. In his introduction, Fisher gives a three-page summary of the history of the ancient Maya, with special attention to their accomplishments in mathematics and language. He then discusses 12 gods (2 are females), with one page depicting the deity and the facing page offering a few paragraphs of information. Some of the gods deal with nature (Chac, god of rain; Kukulcan, god of wind), and others are associated with death and destruction (Ek Chuah, god of war; Ix Tab, goddess of suicide; Manik, god of human sacrifice). Fisher's illustrations are bold, with brown-skinned gods and goddesses arrayed in brightly colored costumes and outlined in black. Symbols of their power appear with them, but a key would have made the illustrations more useful. However, the book does include other helpful information such as a pronunciation guide, a bibliography, and an explanation of the Maya numbering system. Although not an in-depth study, this provides a good introduction to the mythology of the ancient Maya, a subject where most juvenile library collections could use some bolstering. A visually striking edition. --Susan Dove Lempke

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fisher (The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt) here focuses on the principal figures in ancient Mayan mythology, devoting a spread to each of a dozen gods and goddesses. The profiles are succinct, like encyclopedia entries; the full-page pictures, vibrantly hued, pay homage to Mayan art and glyphs. Combined with the powerful frontal compositions, the choice of a different, bold background color for each spread invigorates the pages. Not all of these figures are benevolent: Ix Tab, the goddess of suicide, "was usually depicted as a dead woman, hanging from heaven with a rope around her neck"; and in a ritual devoted to Manik, the god of human sacrifice, a warrior "would be stretched on his back over a stone altar by four priests. Another priest would plunge a knife into his chest and tear out his heart." The discrete presentation focusing on individual deities may be useful for students writing school reports; readers interested in a more organic or contextual approach to Mayan religion will want to see Victor Montejo and Luis Garay's Popol Vuh (see Notes, below). Ages 10-12. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 3-7-An introduction to Mayan mythology and a glimpse at a highly stylized art form. Following a brief description of the culture, Fisher describes 12 of its most important deities. For each god or goddess, a clear, one-page account discusses his or her nature (benevolent, destructive, or sometimes dual), physical characteristics, function in the society, and symbols. Facing the pages of text are full-page paintings inspired by Mayan glyphs and stelae depicting profiled figures with sloped foreheads holding or wearing representative objects or clothing. Bold, vibrant tones highlight the features of these heavily outlined figures and form backdrops for the pages. A useful pronunciation guide concludes the volume. End pages provide a map locating the major archaeological sites and illustrate the Mayan numbering system. This book will be useful as an introduction to the myths and for comparative studies. A visual treat from cover to cover.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.