Cover image for The pot that Juan Built
The pot that Juan Built
Andrews-Goebel, Nancy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Lee & Low Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
27 unnumbered pages ; 24 x 29 cm
A cumulative rhyme summarizes the life's work of renowned Mexican potter, Juan Quezada. Additional information describes the process he uses to create his pots after the style of the Casas Grandes people.
Reading Level:
1000 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.2 0.5 63556.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.5 2 Quiz: 31956 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK4210.Q49 A87 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Diaz. Juan Quezada is the premier potter in Mexico. Using local materials and the primitive methods of the Casas Grandes people, Juan creates stunning pots in the traditional style - each a work of art unlike any other. Written in the form of The House That Jack Built and accompanied by explanatory material, this celebratory story is also the tale of the once impoverished village of Mata Ortiz - transformed by Juan's pioneering work - and its people. Ages 4-8.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4. Using a series of double-page spreads, Andrews-Goebel tells the story of Mexican potter Juan Quezada. The left side of the each spread, with text in cumulative rhyme designed for younger children, describes how Quezada makes his pots. The right side, in prose for older readers, explains how Quezada applies art techniques used by the ancients who inhabited the area of Mexico where he now lives. Diaz's computer-generated illustrations perfectly complement the story, reflecting the shimmering light and heat of the desert, and many of the images mirror the patterns found on Quezada's pottery. At the end of the book, children will find several pages of even more sophisticated text and small color photographs that further illuminate the pottery-making process and the impact Quezada's artistry has had on the economy of his small Mexican town. A fascinating look at the skills of a self-taught master. --Todd Morning

Publisher's Weekly Review

Noted Mexican potter Juan Quezada is the subject of an inventive and engrossing biography from newcomer Andrews-Goebel (who coproduced a documentary on Quezada) and Caldecott winner Diaz. On the left side of each spread, a "House That Jack Built"-style rhyme accumulates the often humble factors that shaped an extraordinary artist ("These are the cows all white and brown/ That left manure all over the ground/ That fueled the flames so sizzling hot/ That flickered and flared and fired the pot/ The beautiful pot that Juan built"). This lilting rhyme describes the rudiments of Quezada's process, but for more ambitious readers, the opposite page (unfortunately, in very small type) provides a straightforward elaboration ("Juan's pottery is fired the traditional way, using dried cow manure for fuels.... [M]anure from cows that eat grass, rather than commercial feed, burns at the best temperature to turn his clay pots into perfectly fired works of art"). Diaz ingeniously ties the two narrative threads together with strongly horizontal compositions and radiant, stencil-like digital renderings (a highlight is the spread in which ants point the way to a vein of fine white clay). The artist shows Quezada both at work and seeking inspiration in the scrubby foothills. The glowing tones of the artwork capture the sweep and heat of the sun-bleached landscape, while the highly stylized elements echo the decorative motifs of Quezada's pottery and lend a suitably mythic patina to this visionary artist's story. Ages 6-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Juan Quezada is one of the best-known potters in Mexico. Using only natural materials to form and paint his pots, he is responsible for creating a vibrant folk-art economy in his small town of Mata Ortiz. This unusual book is set up to allow for differing levels of reading expertise, presenting information about Quezada in such a way that it can be read as a story or as an informational book, part biography, part fine-arts discussion. One page contains a catchy cumulative rhyme modeled on "This Is the House That Jack Built," which outlines the process of making a pot. The facing page offers a clearly written prose presentation, laying out the story of the potter's life and his method of constructing pots in the classic style of the Casas Grandes Indians. Diaz's arresting illustrations, rendered in Adobe Photoshop, use yellows, oranges, and reds in a layered effect that seems to glow with an inward light. The use of stylized forms-all of the people with a full-face front eye in the manner of ancient Egyptian art-adds a sense of gravitas and historical continuity to the artwork. An afterword gives a more in-depth treatment of Quezada's life and work, and is illustrated with small inset color photographs. This is a must purchase for all collections, and could be used with Diana Cohn's Dream Carver (Chronicle, 2002) for a look at how both art and economies of scale can work to enrich our lives and to build community.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.