Between Heaven and Earth: Bird Tales from Around the World

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For centuries birds and their magnificent ability to fly have inspired tales of mischief, mystery, and enchantment. In a collection that is as beautiful as it is timeless, award-winning author Howard Norman and Caldecott medalists Leo and Diane Dillon offer five bird stories from around the world--including one about an elusive bird that sings like a warthog and another about a much loved quail dying of thirst.

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Overview


For centuries birds and their magnificent ability to fly have inspired tales of mischief, mystery, and enchantment. In a collection that is as beautiful as it is timeless, award-winning author Howard Norman and Caldecott medalists Leo and Diane Dillon offer five bird stories from around the world--including one about an elusive bird that sings like a warthog and another about a much loved quail dying of thirst.

This glorious collaboration is the perfect gift for any family library, a book that children and parents alike will treasure.

A collection of folktales from around the world, all of which have a bird as a main character.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese:
"This collection is not only the handsomest gathering of Inuit folktales ever, but one that will bring readers as close to a living oral tradition as printed material can . . . A pleasure to see, to hold, and to read."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Publishers Weekly
The team behind The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese here presents five tales from Australia, Norway, Sri Lanka, Africa's Matabelel and China-each, in some form or another, about birds. Told to Norman by native speakers at a folktale conference (detailed and credited in an afterword), the tales are transformed, in his hands, into a handful of literary gems. A storyteller's cadence will draw in youngsters ("A pelican's shadow racing along the surface of the water is a frightful thing to a fleeing fish," observes the omniscient narrator of "The Disobedient Pelican Daughter"), while the stories themselves turn convention upside-down. A blind man knows more about birds than the seeing man who tries to outwit him; rude, toothy beasts treat each other with kindness and civility; and death does not take parents, but transforms them into swans, still visible to the loyal son (in "The Swan-Scholar's Great Secret") through a magic telescope ("They were flying over gorge trees, then landed on the water. Chiao said, `I love you without end,' as was his custom"). The Dillons' paintings suggest stained-glass windows. Bold outlines of stylized figures, etched lightly with white, enhance the sense of jeweled delicacy. Landscapes unfold as a wealth of geometric and floral patterns in sunset pastels. Like a concerto with fast and slow movements, the funny, fast-moving stories will be relished by younger listeners, while older readers may find themselves drawn to the moments of quiet sadness. Ages 7-10. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Storyteller Howard Norman brings his considerable knowledge of folktales to bear and, in delightful prose, brings five stories to light and life. Norman's facility with language and his ability to showcase folly, vanity, or an adventurous spirit with a few examples or the telling detail makes this a joy to read aloud. A race starter, for instance, claps his hands as a signal, "...and between the clap and the echo, the children were off." An Australian story of how the pelican gave nets to the people is followed by a Norwegian tale in which a troll wearing a scarf made of crows is tricked with a bag of bread. The Dillons have used colored pencil and watercolors to give these stories a light and sometimes ethereal look. Patterns on textiles or borders reflect the tale's cultural origin and add beauty as well as texture, but sometimes they are so overwhelmingly fussy that foregrounds and background lack distinguishing emphasis. However, others call to the eye as Norman's storytelling draws the ear. Norman also includes a Sri Lankan tale of "The Beautiful Quail," a Metabeleland (African) tale of "The Bird Who Sang Like a Warthog," and a Chinese tale of "The Swan-Scholar's Great Secret." In a passionate afterword, Norman relates how he came to hear the tales at a folklore gathering of displaced people who, in their native lands had held important positions, but in the United States were now gardeners, housepainters, chauffeurs, and so forth, and then honed the telling over some years. It's a beautiful offering and a delightful family or classroom read aloud as well as a resource for storytellers young and old. 2004, Harcourt/Gulliver Books, Ages 7 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
From the creators of The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese (1997), a less ambitious outing: five tales from a workshop run by Norman (15 years ago), illustrated with art that tries to look like leaded stained glass. Except for "The Bird Who Sang Like a Warthog," which resembles Rodanas's The Blind Hunter (2003), the stories are new. A "Disobedient Daughter" forces Goolayyahlee the pelican to teach Aboriginal people how to make fishing nets; a "Beautiful Quail" survives a drought in Sri Lanka thanks to the kindness of others; and the transformation of residents of a remote Chinese village into swans when they die becomes "The Swan-Scholar's Great Secret." All told in the same formal, restrained tone, the tales receive individuality from the names of the characters, and also from evocative motifs in the stylized art-though the Dillons' use of a diffuse line makes the colors look watery. Norman identifies the original tellers in a long afterword that's more about the workshop than the stories. Though handsomely packaged, this pricey gathering won't draw or keep the interest of child readers or tellers. (Folktales. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152019822
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: Ages 7 to 10
  • Pages: 88
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.12 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Two of Howard Norman’s novels, The Northern Lights (1987) and The Bird Artist (1994), were nominated for the National Book Award. His other novels include The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, Devotion, and What is Left the Daughter. His books have been translated into twelve languages. Norman is the recipient of a Lannan Award in fiction, and he teaches at the University of Maryland.

LEO and DIANE DILLON together illustrated more than twenty-five acclaimed and award-winning books for children, including the Caldecott Medal winner Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema, a retelling of the opera Aida by Leontyne Price, and their own Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose.

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