cover image In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World

In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World

Virginia Hamilton. Harcourt Children's Books, $28 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-15-238740-2

In 25 myths, life begins after some being either directs others to get or make soil, or forms the earth from nothing, or opens a box, or separates earth, sky and waters; the methods of creation are only limited by the number of stories in the book. The tales are varied, representing many world cultures and traditions; somelike the story of Pandorawill be known to readers, although they may not have identified it previously as a creation myth. The tellings, too, are varied, sometimes somber and other times lilting. In her introduction, Hamilton calls the phrase ``In the beginning . . . '' a ``classic opening, although not the only opening,'' but many of the tales begin this way, which suggests a tacit endorsement of the phrase. Additionally, she asserts that limitations of space ``do not allow for all of the important world myths to be presented here. Also, not all myths are easily rendered on a level of understanding for many readers.'' Simply by addressing such limitations, Hamilton embraces the only problem with the workthat it does not encompass every culture or even every world region. Moser's watercolors gleam like jewels amid the setting of the text. His people and creatures gaze out at readers, as if to challenge their imaginations to comprehend the chaos before creation. All ages. (Sept.)