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Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air

Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air

by Natalia M. Belting, Will Hillenbrand (Illustrator)
As the Toba Indians of the Gran Chaco say, "There are worlds above the earth and worlds below." This collection of fourteen creation myths from the South American Indians is a dazzling introduction to both worlds.


As the Toba Indians of the Gran Chaco say, "There are worlds above the earth and worlds below." This collection of fourteen creation myths from the South American Indians is a dazzling introduction to both worlds.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the native tribes of South America come 14 novel creation myths. Some are presented in poetic form, while others, such as the Cayapo Indian myth ``What Happened When Armadillo Dug a Hole in the Sky,'' are told as stories. The lyrical Cayapo tale concerns a race that once lived in the sky. One day, a hunter chases an armadillo into a hole and when his prey breaks through the bottom of the sky, the man glimpses the beautiful land below. He convinces the villagers to make a rope, on which many descend, but a few cautious ones do not--and the rope is cut. ``The villagers who waited to think are still in the sky. They are the stars. And the people who came down had no way to return. They are the Ancestors.'' Belting's lean prose has a staccato tempo aptly suited to the oral nature of these tales, and Hillenbrand's illustrations are appropriately dark and mysterious. His artwork is reminiscent at times of Gauguin (especially the female figures), but the palette is deeper, drawing heavily on earth tones. One minor annoyance: the pages on which the text is printed exhibit a slightly marbled effect, which occasionally makes the words difficult to read. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-- A collection of mythic stories that illustrates the difficulties of translating ancient material for contemporary children. Drawing from diverse South American cultures, Belting retells stories about the dawn of time: how the Earth was formed, the sky was inhabited, and people came to be. Sometimes she captures the poetics of sacred literature, as in the haunting ``Ghosts and Souls,'' but other times the text falls flat, conveying external events without hinting at the deeper meanings these stories have held within their culture of origin. Hillenbrand creates a darkly mythical world of his own, populated by heavy, mostly naked people who bear a general resemblance to the various native peoples (brown skin, black hair, etc.). The artwork is skillful and evokes a feeling of timelessness, but there is no visual distinction between the tropics of the Campas and the freezing cold landscape where the Selkam live. While this provides visual unity to diverse stories, it lessens the value of the book as a resource. One can't help but compare this approach to the Dillons' Ashanti to Zulu (Dial, 1976) , in which the rich variety of tribal life on the African continent was explored within a unifying framework of style and composition. Still, this book does provide a glimpse into an underrepresented subject area. Hopefully, further publications of native South American material will give North American readers a deeper understanding of the literature and culture of these diverse people. --Carolyn Polese, Gateway Community School, Arcata, CA
Hazel Rochman
Why is the rainbow bent? How was the earth made? How did the stars get into the sky? Belting retells creation myths from various South American Indian tribes in a spare, colloquial style that combines the mysterious with a strong sense of the natural world. Armadillo digs a hole in the sky, and the people who follow him down to settle the earth are the Ancestors. With his music Averiri makes the night and the seasons. Orekeke wrestles Tornado in his cave. The pages of text are beige-colored, with the rough look of bark paper, and Hillenbrand uses a range of styles for the oil and pastel illustrations. Several pictures draw directly on Gauguin's Tahitian paintings, especially in the depiction of women. Most powerful are the surreal images of dark, brooding Moon, with a great hand and foot; of swirling winds; and of the floating faces of ghosts and souls.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.27(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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