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Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale

Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale

by Mary-Joan Gerson, Carla Golembe (Illustrator)

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The sky was once so close to the Earth that people cut parts of it to eat, but their waste and greed caused the sky to move far away.


The sky was once so close to the Earth that people cut parts of it to eat, but their waste and greed caused the sky to move far away.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW praised the ``dazzling, boldly hued illustrations'' in this tale of an idyllic period when the sky itself is a source of sustenance. Ages 4-8. (May)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
The vibrant illustrations enrich this 500-year-old folktale about why the sky is far away. At the beginning of creation the sky cared for the earth's inhabitants, providing sustenance from itself. Those hungry could reach up and take a piece; the delicious sky food would taste differently each time the people ate; and the people were left to carve, weave, and tell stories. In time, the people became wasteful and greedy and were warned by the sky to change their ways or the sky's gifts would be no longer theirs. The people changed for awhile, but their wastefulness caused the sky to move away, out of their reach. The people had to learn to hunt and farm and to respect the earth. The deep rich colors and strong lines of Golembe's illustrations effectively portray the story line and culture of the Bini tribe of Nigeria.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- This pourquoi tale, first told 500 years ago by the Bini tribe of Nigeria, has a topical message that is accessible to children without being heavy-handed. ``In the beginning,'' the sky was so close to the earth that anyone who was hungry could just reach up, take a piece, and eat it. The sky was delicious, tasting sometimes of meat stew, sometimes of roasted corn. But the people grew careless with the sky's gifts, taking more than they needed to satisfy their hunger. The sky grew angry, threatening to withhold its gifts if the people continued to waste them. True to its promise, the sky moved far away, and the Bini were forced to plow the fields and hunt the forest. Golembe's striking illustrations deepen and enrich this simple tale, adding immensely to the book's appeal. Using a strong, sure line and a palette of deep, vibrant colors, she evokes a timeless African landscape, resonating both the mythic and contemporary themes. The symbolic qualities of the story are strengthened by a deceptively simple composition and the weight of the flat, stylized figures, done in dense, pure black. An eye-catching choice for folklore or picture book collections, and especially useful in supplementing multicultural and ecological curricula. --Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.25(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mary-Joan Gerson has written five books for children. She was inspired to write this story after spending time in Nigeria with the Peace Corps. Mary travels extensively to explore different cultures and discover new ways to see the world, and enjoys sharing that experience with children and adults through her books.

Carla Golembe is an award-winning illustrator, artist, author, and teacher. Her artwork, in a wide range of mediums including acrylic on paper and canvas, gouache, and monotype, has been featured at galleries across the country.

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