The Star-Bearer: A Creation Myth from Ancient Egypt

Overview

A five-thousand-year-old story.

When the godchild Atum emerges from inky silence to begin his work of creation, he first conjures up the passionate gods of air and rain, followed by Geb, god of the earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky. But earth and sky cling to each other, sharing whispered secrets and laughter, leaving Atum no room to complete his creation. So Atum has no ...

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Overview

A five-thousand-year-old story.

When the godchild Atum emerges from inky silence to begin his work of creation, he first conjures up the passionate gods of air and rain, followed by Geb, god of the earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky. But earth and sky cling to each other, sharing whispered secrets and laughter, leaving Atum no room to complete his creation. So Atum has no choice but to force them apart, infuriating Geb and leaving Nut sad and lonely . . . until Thoth, the god of wisdom, takes pity on her.

From an age-old explanation of how our starry universe came to be, Dianne Hofmeyr and Jude Daly have fashioned a dazzling and accessible picture-book introduction to Egyptian mythology.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374371814
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Dianne Hofmeyr is the author of two previous picture books, Do the Whales Still Sing? and The Stone, both also illustrated by Jude Daly. She lives in London. Jude Daly lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband, Niki Daly. She is the author and illustrator of Fair, Brown & Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story.

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