The Night the Moon Fell: A Maya Myth

Overview


A whoosh from her grandfather’s blowgun causes Luna, the moon, to tumble from the sky and fall to pieces in the dark ocean. To save herself, she enlists the help of little fish to glue her back together. At last she rises, beautiful and round again, taking her new friends with her to create the Milky Way. Pat Mora and artist Domi have taken the traditional Mopan Maya (Belize) myth — in which the moon is a young weaver and the Milky Way a fish — and transformed it into a magical story of friendship and ...
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Overview


A whoosh from her grandfather’s blowgun causes Luna, the moon, to tumble from the sky and fall to pieces in the dark ocean. To save herself, she enlists the help of little fish to glue her back together. At last she rises, beautiful and round again, taking her new friends with her to create the Milky Way. Pat Mora and artist Domi have taken the traditional Mopan Maya (Belize) myth — in which the moon is a young weaver and the Milky Way a fish — and transformed it into a magical story of friendship and imagination.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
A traditional Mayan myth is retold in this English version by the poet Pat Mora. It seems Luna, the moon, is startled by her grandfather's blowgun and rolls out of the sky and into the sea where she breaks into millions of pieces. But her friends, the fishes, help her "collect herself" and they add little found bits they pick up from seashells and in crevices on the ocean floor. Soon Luna is ready to journey skyward again. But she seeks a few patches from her friends who donate a scale or two. Finally, curious, the fishes make a net of themselves and accompany her to the sky where today they twinkle and swim. The original Mayan story featured a weaver moon and a fish who is the Milky Way, so Mora has taken some creative liberties here and has inserted some awkward verse ("Where am I? Where's the sky?/Broken, sad, lost am I") into the otherwise flowing story. Vibrant paintings use colors which bleed on the paper with rainbow-like results. The decorative artwork resembles folk motifs and pattern, each painting striking on its own, but taken as a whole, the illustrations are a less-than-eloquent continuation of the story. Is this a Mayan explanation of why the moon waxes and wanes? Perhaps. Or is it a story of self-reliance, as the opening note suggests, or of the need for true friends, as the text hints? Nonetheless, the book demands a second look for the beautiful artwork, and the enigmatic story will have children looking to the stars with new curiosity. 2000, Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
From The Critics
Long ago, Luna the moon is shaken off balance from her place high in the night sky, and falls in broken pieces to the bottom of the sea. Stars, flower, birds, all miss her light and seek her in vain. In this version of a traditional Mopan Maya (Belize) myth, poor Luna despairs, down deep in the ocean: "Where am I? Where's the sky? Broken, sad, lost am I." With the help and encouragement of the little fish, she finds a way to put herself back together and return to her proper place in the sky. Mora makes Luna come alive in the narrative, which includes vivid description punctuated with sounds and song-like rhymed couplets as the tiny fish first cheer her, then collect her pieces, patch them together, and help her rise again. These new friends then stay with her as twinkling stars. Domi has chosen to visualize this mystical, other-worldly myth with transparent sweeps of color that suggest the ephemeral qualities of sky and water with highly stylized fish, flower, and bird shapes. The moon herself is similarly constructed, first round with a face, then as shards on the sea bottom, finally as a glowing bright presence in a dark sky. Words and pictures collaborate here in telling a poetic, even fantastic story, one that demands that the reader enter another kind of world. This book is also available in a Spanish version, La noche que se cayó la luna: Mito Maya. 2000, Groundwood, $16.95. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz — The Five Owls, January/February 2001 (Vol. 15 No. 3)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A retelling of a Mopan Maya myth concerning the creation of the Milky Way. The moon, Luna, is felled from the sky by a chance shot from her grandfather's blowgun. She tumbles into the sea, breaking to pieces as she falls. Lost in the dark depths of the ocean, she manages to pull herself back together with a little help from her new friends, the fish. The descriptive writing imbues both Luna and the fish with character-spunky in the case of the moon and indelibly hopeful and cheerful in the instance of the fish-and gives the story enough drama to engage young readers and listeners. The progression from sadness and despair to problem solution to the triumphant return to the sky with the fish in tow is masterfully presented and ably extended by Domi's effervescent watercolor illustrations. Layers of translucent color convey both the luminescence of the sea and the tranquility of the sky. The combination of fantasy and the familiar, of the idea of the moon as a living entity and the power of friendship, proves irresistible and gives this retelling the stature to stand beside such excellent examples of the genre as Lois Ehlert's Moon Rope (1992) and Cuckoo (1997, both Harcourt). Note: The Spanish edition of Mora's book appears on page 179.-Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888999382
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 489,875
  • Age range: 2 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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