Spirits of the Wild: The World's Great Nature Myths

Overview

Spirits of the Wild is an enchanting collection of sixty nature myths from around the world, many of them hundreds, even thousands of years old. Each myth is charmingly retold by Gary Ferguson, one of the West's best-loved nature writers. You'll read "The Healing Waters" from the Iroquois, "Why Spider Has a Small Waist" from Liberia, and "When Sun Married Moon" from Togo, Africa; about lovers whose tears formed the rains in Vietnam; of how the meadowlark found his voice; about the first evergreen trees and the ...
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Overview

Spirits of the Wild is an enchanting collection of sixty nature myths from around the world, many of them hundreds, even thousands of years old. Each myth is charmingly retold by Gary Ferguson, one of the West's best-loved nature writers. You'll read "The Healing Waters" from the Iroquois, "Why Spider Has a Small Waist" from Liberia, and "When Sun Married Moon" from Togo, Africa; about lovers whose tears formed the rains in Vietnam; of how the meadowlark found his voice; about the first evergreen trees and the last bumblebees who sang like birds; and a whimsical story of how the hare climbed a spiderweb to heaven and stole the sun. Illustrated with exquisite line drawings by Douglas Smith.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Author of the award-winning Walks of Nature travel series, Ferguson presents a collection of 60 nature myths, many of them centuries old, from cultures around the world. He provides a brief introduction to each. From Sweden comes a charming tale of the origin of the northern lights; from Brazil, the coming of night; from Australia, the birth of the sun. We learn about elves in Iceland, the legend of the snowdrop in England, the wallflower in Scotland. A story from Africa tells how birds found their homes, and a California Indian myth explains how the meadowlark got its voice. These essays embrace all the natural worldflora and fauna, earth and sky. As such, they offer a refreshing portrait of nature as seen by other peoples in the past. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
YA-A simple and diverse collection of stories that explain how things found in nature came to be. The selections are broken into five categories: "Spirits of the Trees and Flowers," "Creatures Great and Small," "Tales from the Heavens," "The Makings of Earth," and "The Nature of Things." None of the myths is more than three pages long. Each one is preceded by a short introduction that expounds upon or expands the tale. The 60 selections come from a variety of ethnic groups on most continents although South America is not represented. Many of the tales can be found in other sources but these read well. Because of the large number of cultures included and the smooth style of the retellings, this volume is a valuable addition.-Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of uneven, though always provocative, creation myths from all corners of the globe, by science and nature writer Ferguson (Walking Down the Wind, not reviewed).

Ferguson succinctly retells 60 creation stories, fashioned by ancients in times now long gone, that served to explain the mysterious ways of nature. As works of sheer invention, these exuberant, mythopoetic, often violent tales serve to show just how much remains beyond our sphere of knowledge. What do we really know about the northern lights? Discussions of sunspots and events in the ionosphere have little more credence, and a lot less poetry, than the Swedish story of the wingbeats of frozen swans. The tales are mostly wonderful, obliquely hinting at human foibles: Why tulips rock in the breeze (Celtic), why the red bilberry is evergreen (Mongolia), the forces behind the origins of the Milky Way (Vietnam), the sun (Australia), and rainbows (Philippines). A few are leaden, such as the unimaginative "When the Sun Married the Moon" (Togo), and the strangely self-satisfied boasting of "The Beaches of Taranaki" (New Zealand). Ferguson prefaces each of the stories with an all-too-brief introductory comment, enough to pique the reader's curiosity, but also frustrating: Why was the wren so important to the Irish, the frog to the Koreans? Why did a particular place give rise to a particular tale? Ferguson doesn't probe deeply enough. Nor does he attempt to give the stories a distinct cultural or regional flavor: Each and every tale is delivered in the same lyric timbre, a sort of Euro-fairy-tale style that frequently begins "In days all but forgotten" or "A long time ago," whether the story came from Burma, Canada, or Sierra Leone.

A raft of fabulous stories, but without context they lose much of their magic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517703694
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/3/1996
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 13
Tulips (Celtic, Northern Europe) 17
Three Trees Become Evergreen (Mongolia) 19
The Peony Is Exiled from the Royal Garden (China) 21
Lovers in the Birch Trees (Penobscot Indians) 23
The Legend of the Snowdrop (England) 25
The Birth of the Almond Tree (Tangier, Morocco) 27
The Changing of the Waratah Blossom (Australia) 29
Cowslip and the Keys of Heaven (England) 31
Alder and Rhododendron (Nepal) 33
Wallflower (Scotland) 35
Legend of the Azalea (China) 38
The Birds Find Their Homes (Africa) 43
Why Spider Has a Small Waist (Liberia) 45
Nanabozho and the Wild Geese (Ojibwa Indians) 47
A Tale of Skylark (Japan) 49
Homage to the Ants (Burma) 51
Wren Becomes King of the Birds (Ireland) 53
Tsenzi, the Honey Bird (Zimbabwe) 55
Why Bat Hangs Upside Down (Lake Albert, the Congo) 57
Meadowlark Gains His Voice (Pomo Indians) 59
Sad Croak of the Green Frog (Korea) 61
The Origin of Butterflies (Korea) 63
Sacred Goose Gets His Golden Breast (Tibet) 65
Why the Robin Has a Red Breast (Ireland) 68
Silver River (Vietnam) 73
Birth of the Sun (Australia) 75
Frog and the Marriage of Sun and Moon's Daughter (Angola) 77
The Gift of the Rainbow (Philippines) 81
Queen Berenice's Hair (Greece) 83
When Sun Married Moon (Togo, Africa) 85
Hare Steals the Sun (Bananzwa, Southern Africa) 87
The Maiden Rescued by the Moon (Siberia) 90
Crow Saves the Sun (Japan) 92
Moon Is Hung in the Sky (Mandingo, Africa) 94
Rain Comes to Earth (West Africa) 96
How Broken Love Made the Moon and North Star (Nigeria) 98
The Making of Mount Shasta (Modoc Indians) 103
The White Cliffs of Dover (Netherlands) 105
The Coming of Water (Kwakiutl Indians) 107
Giant Levels a Mountain (Java, Indonesia) 109
The Hills of Achik Asong (India) 112
Glacier of Tears (New Zealand) 114
Why There Are Earthquakes (Korea) 116
The Beaches of Taranaki (New Zealand) 118
Cascade Mountains Block the Rain (Native Americans) 120
Children Learn to Walk (Ojibwa Indians) 125
The Coming of Darkness (Sierra Leone, Africa) 127
The Story of the Tides (Philippines) 129
Northern Lights (Sweden) 132
Fairy's Pin Well (Yorkshire, England) 134
Water Visits Sun (Nigeria) 137
The Birth of Lightning (Laos) 139
Sleep Comes from the Flowers (India) 142
The Coming of Night (Brazil) 144
The Lost Voice of Piso Lake (Liberia) 147
Wind Teaches Healing (Pomo Indians) 149
The Hidden People (Iceland) 151
The Pipes of Pan (Ancient Greece) 153
The Healing Waters (Iroquois) 155
The Forest and the Tiger (Java, Indonesia) 158
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2000

    Keturahaa' Review El Cajon

    I do recomend this book to other 8th graders like me because if you are into books that is myth's and myestery's because this book has differnt and they leave wanting more I really recomend the story The Birds Find Their Homes because it tell's the truth if you have an good imajination. I liked this book because this book tells you things that you nver heard of and you want to keep on reading, and they have diffrent moral's to each story.

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