Ishtar and Tammuz: A Babylonian Myth of the Seasons

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Strikingly beautiful, intricately detailed illustrations introduce the goddess Ishtar, with her blue-lined robe that gives the Earth its sky and her silver chariot that brings the night stars, and her son, Tammuz, maker of the seasons, in a lyrical retelling of the Babylonian myth. Full color.

A retelling of the Babylonian myth telling how the death of Ishtar's son Tammuz brings about the changing seasons on earth.

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Balit, Christina 1996 Hard cover American ed. New in fine dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. Audience: Children/juvenile.

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Overview

Strikingly beautiful, intricately detailed illustrations introduce the goddess Ishtar, with her blue-lined robe that gives the Earth its sky and her silver chariot that brings the night stars, and her son, Tammuz, maker of the seasons, in a lyrical retelling of the Babylonian myth. Full color.

A retelling of the Babylonian myth telling how the death of Ishtar's son Tammuz brings about the changing seasons on earth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The figure of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian earth goddess, harks back to 5000 B.C., but her story of jealousy, murder and redemption can still pack a punch. In this Babylonian equivalent of the Persephone myth, Ishtar sends her son Tammuz to earth and "wherever he walked, the earth brought forth fruit and crops and the green of the land." He exerts comparable charm over people and animals. Ishtar, growing envious, orders him killed. Without Tammuz, the earth dries up and people go hungry until Ishtar descends into the underworld to humbly petition her forbidding sister, Allatu, for Tammuz's release. Allatu agrees, on the condition that he return to her for six months each year (autumn and winter). Balit's (Blodin the Beast) decorative, Egyptian-influenced paintings fill each spread with their kinetic patterns, evoking the desolation of winter, the dank splendor of the underworld and the teeming spring. The visual impact of these highly stylized illustrations underscores the dramatic nature of Moore's retelling. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
In this Babylonian parallel to the well-known Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Tammuz, son of the goddess Ishtar in this adaptation is first sent to live on earth, then consigned to the underworld by Ishtar's own jealousy. But then, "with Tammuz gone, a dull sadness came upon the world," and Ishtar, moved to pity, goes down to the underworld to look for him. There she must contend with her sister Allatu, who is reluctant to release Tammuz. An exquisitely illustrated rendering of a powerful myth. The reteller's adaptation is detailed in an afterword.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Like most ancient cultures, the Babylonians created stories to explain nature. Tammuz, Ishtar's son, was responsible for the fruitfulness of the earth. Ishtar became jealous and condemned him to death. The earth shriveled up and the people were in despair. Ishtar felt remorse and promised to go into the kingdom of the dead ruled by her sister to retrieve her son. While she was gone a chill covered the earth. She succeeded in getting her son back but only for six months of each year, thus explaining the cold and warm seasons. The stylized and richly painted pictures fill each spread. They add a touch of mystery and create tension more than the text. It is an excellent combination and a good introduction to mythology from another culture rather than the more familiar Greek or Roman.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-A Babylonian precursor to the story of Persephone. Tammuz, son of the goddess Ishtar, is sent to live on Earth. He is so beloved by the people that jealous Ishtar orders her soldiers to kill him. Without Tammuz, the earth is devastated, and the suffering people petition Ishtar for mercy. She agrees to travel to the underworld, where she reclaims her son, although for only half the year; he must return to the underworld for the other half. Moore evokes rich and clear images with carefully chosen words and phrases and a good sense of rhythm and pace. Balit's vivid, boldly patterned illustrations are packed with detail and sharp contrasts, a style that is effective most of the time but that makes some of the pages appear cluttered. The paintings do capture the mood of the myth, and Balit uses unusual perspectives and sharply delineated shapes to the story's advantage. This well-told tale from a little-explored subject area is a good choice for any library, especially collections supporting interdisciplinary-studies programs.-Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753450123
  • Publisher: Kingfisher
  • Publication date: 8/7/1996
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.73 (w) x 11.37 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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