Woman Who Fell from the Sky: The Iroquois Story of Creation

Woman Who Fell from the Sky: The Iroquois Story of Creation

by John Bierhorst, Robert A. Parker

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this story from the Six Nations, a husband ``in the sky country'' grows jealous of his wife's pregnancy and pushes her through a hole. She lands softly on the back of a turtle, and creates the land, the stars and the sun. She also gives birth to twins, Flint and Sapling, the first as hard as the other is gentle, who play a part in their mother's work--``Sapling . . . created fish. But Flint threw small bones into them, to make life more difficult . . . '' All three return to the sky, where people's thoughts can reach them in the smoke of their fires. This rather noncohesive rendition by Bierhorst, known for his retellings of American Indian stories for older readers, may prove confusing for younger audiences, as several loose ends are left dangling (albeit authentically so). Nevertheless, the story's discontinuities do not seriously detract from a gentle, sensible tale that explains both the rough and the smooth in our world, and significantly portrays a woman as creator. Parker's loosely modeled, intensely colored gouache and pastel illustrations echo the tale's primitive origins and continue this team's fruitful collaboration, also seen in The Monkey's Haircut and The Whistling Skeleton. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K Up-- A man and a woman live on island in the sky, lit by a shining tree. When the woman hears her children speaking from within her, her jealous husband uproots the tree and pushes her through the hole. Her fall to the water below is cushioned by birds, and she lands on a turtle's back. After creating the earth, stars, and sun, the sky woman bears twin sons: Sapling, who is responsible for making plants, fish, rivers, and humans, and Flint, who puts tiny bones in the fish, makes snow and monsters, and causes the rivers to run one-way only. The brothers decide to leave Earth and, in choosing different paths, divide the Milky Way. Sky Woman also flies up, on the fire's smoke, telling the people that their thoughts also can rise. The final page contains their prayers of thanks. Bierhorst has done an extraordinary job of adapting anthropological sources of Six Nations lore. Parker's equally extraordinary watercolors provide a fitting complement. Intensely hued, soft-edged, flecked with light, these pictures are splendid but not fussy. Like creation itself, they have an unfinished quality. Delicate pen strokes suggest details and motion; faces are sketched rather than delineated. The combination of lapis blue and a flamelike red-orange makes for pages of incandescent loveliness. This exceptional book has an interest and appeal beyond its Native American subject matter. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
Karen Hutt
"Before the world was new, sky people lived on a floating island high in the air." Then Sky Woman, pushed off the island by her jealous husband, creates the earth, sun, and stars. Her two sons, Flint and Sapling, help her bring plants, animals, and humans to life. The disparate personalities of the sons are reflected in their creations and are evidence of "the two minds of the universe, one that is hard like Flint, one that is gentle like Sapling." Full-color illustrations, rendered in gouache and pen-and-ink, fill the pages with strong images of the world coming to life. The narrative style and the concepts dealt with will be challenging for many young readers. To help children fully appreciate the beauty and imagery of the story, some introduction and discussion will be necessary. A list of original texts from which the tale was adapted is appended.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.63(w) x 11.23(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

John Bierhorst's many books on Latin American folklore & mythology include "The Mythology of South America", "The Mythology of Norther America" & "The Mythology of Mexico & Central America". A specialist in the language & literature of the Aztecs, he is the author of a Nahuatal-English dictionary & the translator of Cantares Mexicanos. He served as editorial advisor for the Smithsonian Series of Studies in Native American Literature; editorial associate for The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces; & editorial consultant for the Encyclopedia of North American Indians. He lives in West Shokan, New York.

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