The Star-Bearer: A Creation Myth from Ancient Egypt
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The Star-Bearer: A Creation Myth from Ancient Egypt

by Dianne Hofmeyr, Jude Daly
     
 

In the beginning, nothing moves in the inky silence... until the golden godchild Atum gradually unfolds from a lotus bud. From him come the gods of the air and rain and their children ? Geb, god of Earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky. Geb and Nut are inseparable. They clasp one another and share whispered secrets, leaving no space between the sky and the earth for

Overview

In the beginning, nothing moves in the inky silence... until the golden godchild Atum gradually unfolds from a lotus bud. From him come the gods of the air and rain and their children ? Geb, god of Earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky. Geb and Nut are inseparable. They clasp one another and share whispered secrets, leaving no space between the sky and the earth for Atum to continue creating. So Atum has no choice but to have them forcibly separated, leaving Geb enraged and Nut sad and lonely... The beautiful story that follows explains, according to Ancient Egyptian beliefs, how day, night and the starry universe were first created.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"After countless ages, a ripple formed beneath the black water and the bud of a lotus flower pushed upwards. As the petals slowly unfurled, they spread a blue luster in the darkness. Enclosed in the center of the bloom was the golden godchild, Atum."
— from the book
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hofmeyr and Daly, previously partnered for The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi, again join forces to weave a colorful picture book from one of the world's oldest storytelling traditions. Key figures in Egyptian mythology spring to life in Hofmeyr's vivid narration: the bud of a lotus flower breaks through the surface of water, and, "as the petals slowly unfurled, they spread a blue luster in the darkness. Enclosed in the center of the bloom was the golden godchild Atum." Atum, the creator, brings forth Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of dew and rain, who are the tempestuous parents of stubborn and inseparable children Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky. When Geb and Nut's carrying on halts Atum's creation of the rest of the world ("If you stay so close to each other, there will be no room for tall trees and rugged mountains, for rivers and waterfalls..."), Atum must assert his authority to divide the siblings into the earth and sky we recognize today. Daly's stylized, willowy figures shine against elegant backgrounds of rich, jewel-like blues and greens, bathed in sun-, moon- or starlight. The paintings go far in visually bridging slight gaps in Hofmeyr's narrative. Even with such gaps, the author's lustrous imagery and poetic tone give this ancient story a fresh feel with much appeal. Ages 4-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In mystical language appropriate to a creation myth thousands of years old, Hofmeyr relates the emergence of the godchild Atum from a lotus in dark water, and his subsequent creation of the god of air and goddess of dew and rain. From them come their children, earth and sky, then after their forced separation, earth and all upon it. Thoth, god of all wisdom, then makes possible the birth of the other Egyptian gods. The tale ends with the ascension of Atum to the heavens and a lyrical tribute to the moods of Nut, goddess of night, quite different from the usual myths. Daly's rather stylized painted images suggest some of those found on ancient Egyptian scrolls and wall paintings, as introduced on the jacket/cover. The visual legend unfolds in various size rectangular scenes set on white pages with the brief, almost caption-like text. Symbolism dominates—the swirling arabesques of air, the broken blue lines arching across the sky as rain. The night goddess's body stretches across the earth in her various guises. The mysticism of this world, not well-known in traditional picture books, can only be hinted at here. There is a note about sources and a pronunciation key. 2001, Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-The creator, Atum, magically brings to life the god of air and goddess of dew and rain, but the closeness of their two children, Geb and Nut, stops him from creating the world and preventing "the dark, watery wastes from returning." When he insists the two be separated, Geb becomes the earth (his volcanic anger spewing forth) and Nut becomes the starry sky. Thoth, the god of wisdom, takes pity on Nut, allowing her to have children in the five light days granted to her, and Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys are born. The well-documented text is uplifted by the illustrations in their use of color and design. The depiction of the blue lotus that closes and sinks below the water's surface as a sacred element is particularly effective. Consistent with Egyptian mythology, the art suggests an incestuous relationship between the brother and sister. Libraries needing individual creation myths will want to add this smoothly paced retelling to their collection.-Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781845078386
Publisher:
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Dianne Hofmeyr grew up on the tip of Southern Africa. An art teacher, she has written teenage novels and picture books, and has won the M-Net Award for fiction, as well as two IBBY Honor Books. Her other works include The Faraway Island, The Star Bearer and The Magic Bojabi Tree. She lives in the U.K.

Niki Daly has won many awards for his work. His groundbreaking Not So fast Songololo, winner of a U.S Parent's Choice Award, paved the way for post-apartheid South African children's books. Since then, he has been widely published and has spoken in several countries. Among his many books, Once Upon a Time was an Honor Winner in the U.S. Children's Africana Book Awards, and Jamela's Dress was chosen by the ALA as a Notable Children's Book and by Booklist as one of the Top Ten African American Picture Books of 2000. Both live in Cape Town, South Africa.

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