The Pot That Juan Built
By School Library Journal
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 different 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 potters life and his method of constructing pots in the classic style of the Casas Grandes Indians. Diazâ€™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 â€” all of the people with a full-face front eye in the manner of ancient Egyptian art â€” adds a sense of gravitas and historical continuity to the artwork. An afterward gives a more in-depth treatment of Quezadaâ€™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 Cohnâ€™s Dream Carver (Chronicle, 2002) for a look at how both art and economics of scale can work to enrich our lives and to build community.