Big Turtle

Overview

Breathing new life into traditional storytelling, David McLimans takes an exciting step into the world of folktales with another stunning visual feast. At the start of Big Turtle, the world only had two parts: the animals in the lower Water World and the people above in the Sky World. When Sky Girl falls to the sea, she is saved by two beautiful swans but is unable to return to her sky home. Big Turtle suggests building a new home for Sky Girl on his great shell using earth from the bottom of the sea, so Otter, ...

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Overview

Breathing new life into traditional storytelling, David McLimans takes an exciting step into the world of folktales with another stunning visual feast. At the start of Big Turtle, the world only had two parts: the animals in the lower Water World and the people above in the Sky World. When Sky Girl falls to the sea, she is saved by two beautiful swans but is unable to return to her sky home. Big Turtle suggests building a new home for Sky Girl on his great shell using earth from the bottom of the sea, so Otter, Muskrat, and Beaver each attempt to reach the ocean's bottom. Only little Toad is able to bring enough earth to the surface to place on Big Turtle's back-creating a new world between the sea and sky for Sky Girl, who becomes the Earth's first person.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Caldecott Honoree McLimans (Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet) gives this retelling of a Huron creation myth a contemporary look with the use of crisp, Native American–style motifs in bold primary colors. “Long ago, the World had two parts,” he explains. “All the people lived above in the Sky World. And all the animals lived below in the Water World.” On the upper half of the page, stylized Huron parents and children bend stiffly over fires and pots; below, beavers, otters, and other water animals fill a blue-green lake. The tale of Sky Girl’s rescue after falling into the Water World and the creation of the world on the back of Big Turtle is dramatized with plenty of energetic conversation: “What am I to do now?” says Sky Girl. “I can’t get back to the Sky World, and I can’t live in the water.” Yet, with much time spent on a contest to retrieve “special soil deep beneath the water,” other elements of the story—Sky Girl’s pregnancy, the sacrifice of Toad’s life, and the population of the new world—get short shrift, weakening their impact. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Big Turtle is a retelling of a Huron Native American creation myth. With vivid illustrations, David McLimans breathes new life into an old story, bringing it to another generation in a lovely format that is destined to be a classic. Long ago the world existed in two parts: a sky world and a water world. One morning, Sky Girl takes a walk, tires, and falls asleep. She lies down under an apple tree, only to feel the ground rumble. Suddenly she falls into a black hole. Fortunately two swans catch the girl and save her life. They take her to see Big Turtle, who allows the girl to rest on his back. Big Turtle tells these creatures to find the special soil that is beneath the sea, so that Turtle can build an island for Sky Girl to live on. Toad succeeds at this task, but sacrifices her life in the process. An island grows on Big Turtle's back, a place filled with living things. This island became our world, and Sky Girl's descendants became Earth's first people. In honor of her sacrifice, Toad is revered to this day. Young readers will enjoy this beautifully crafted and illustrated tale. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6—Before the Earth was formed, the world had two parts. People lived in the sky world and the animals lived in the water world. Then one day, a young woman who was pregnant with twins fell from the sky. Caught by swans, she was taken to the wisest of creatures, Big Turtle, who devised a plan to fetch soil from the bottom of the water to build a new home for Sky Girl. The animals vied to be the one to fetch it but only one was successful, and at great cost. The Earth was formed on Big Turtle's back, where it remains today. Occasionally, when he stretches, it rumbles and quakes. Deep blacks accented with bold color beautifully reflect Native American art motifs in this re-created Huron myth. McLimans's use of bold inks and clean edges have a woodcut feel. The animals are deftly accented with neonlike colors and patterns, bright round eyes, and simple detail. Unfortunately, the text falls short. The narrative begins well enough but the dialogue feels forced and uncharacteristically contemporary. Sky Girl, whose descendants became the Earth's First People, speaks a bit too much like a Valley Girl, and the animals sound childlike. This dichotomy tends to distract readers from the beauty of the story. A lovely, artist offering that just misses the mark.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802722829
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID McLIMANS won the Caldecott Honor for his first book, Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet, and has won numerous other awards for his editorial illustration. He is also the creator of Gone Fishing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper's, and Time. www.davidmclimans.com

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