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When Woman Became the Sea: A Costarican Creation Myth

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a breathless, exclamation-point-filled narrative, Strauss Coyote Stories for Children introduces Sibu the creator, who can't determine what crucial element is missing from his newly fashioned world. He wants to ask his friend Thunder for advice, but can't get Thunder's attention until he creates Sea, the first woman, whom Thunder takes as his wife. Sea "became full with child" and, as a result of defying the orders of both Sibu and Thunder, her walking stick turns into a venomous snake that bites her. However, before she dies, her belly bursts open; she sprouts a "magnificent tree," which then releases "all the waters of the world" and makes Sibu's world "complete at last." As a read-aloud, Strauss's frequent use of alliteration and onomatopoeic sounds as those uttered by Thunder, together with Acosta's electrically hued paintings, may catch readers' attention, but the meandering, confusing story line will leave questions hovering at the book's conclusion. Ages 4-8. Oct.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This creation story from the Cabecar and Bribri people of Costa Rica explains the connection between trees and water. Sibu has created the world, but he feels that something is missing. He wants help from Thunder, but cannot seem to get his attention. So Sibu creates the first woman and names her Sea. The minute Thunder sees her, he asks her to be his wife. After she is bitten by a snake and falls into a deep sleep, Thunder and Sibu lovingly wrap her in a bundle of leaves. Eventually she turns into a tree, and then bursts open to spill out all of the waters of the world-the missing element. Strauss is a storyteller and her colloquial-sounding, rhythmic narrative just begs to be read or told aloud. The vivid acrylic illustrations make the most of strong shapes, swirling brush strokes, and clean blocks of color to create a primitive style emboldened by a sense of movement, perfect for a myth about making and doing. The page layout is excellent, with spiraled, scriptlike print balancing and enhancing the kinetic look of the artwork. Put forward by the author as a "...poetic [image] of science," this could be used in conjunction with factual books on the rainforest, as well as with other Latin American folktales such as Lois Ehlert's Moon Rope/Lazo a la luna 1992 and Cuckoo/Cucu 1997, both Harcourt, which also serve to explain natural phenomena.-Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Kirkus Reviews
A lovely creation myth from Costa Rica is retold in read-aloud rhythm and illustrated with gorgeous, tropical paintings. In the "long-ago" time, Sibu is creating all things, but he believes something is missing. To enlist his friend Thunder to help, Sibu entices him by creating a beautiful woman, named Sea. The two marry, and Sibu sends Sea with a walking-stick gift for Thunder, but he rejects it. Both gods warn her not to lay the stick on the ground, but Sea has an independent nature, and "Oh how the world is changed when a woman begins to wonder!" The stick, when put on the ground, turns into a snake that bites Sea, and from her deep sleep springs a huge tree full of leaves, blossoms, and birds; eventually, from the tree burst the waters of the world, and then Sibu knows what was missing. Thunder and Sea still meet, of course, dancing together in lightning and clouds. Sound effects are indicated by the waving, explosive typeface that will inspire dramatic story hours. The rich colors and vivid patterns of Acosta's illustrations echo Latino pottery and design, making this an irresistible package. (Picture book/folklore. 4-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781885223852
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse/Beyond Words
  • Publication date: 10/1/1998
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.88 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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