cover image Tales of the Early World

Tales of the Early World

Ted Hughes. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-374-37377-1

Like a cross between Kipling's Just So Stories and Twain's Letters to the Earth , these 10 original and imaginative creation tales by England's poet laureate will appeal to adults and children alike. Hughes's God spends considerable time trying to straighten out His mistakes. By accidentally breathing life into a miniature trunk made from leftover elephant clay, God fashions the earthworm. A half-done creature left unattended is saved by God's mother, who lends the turkey-footed bird a beautiful shawl, thus creating the peacock. Hughes's brave new world includes a fortune-telling moon that ``was actually a smile without a face'' and ``lay on the sea's rim like a face on a pillow,'' mountains that dance, a black hole that consumes the songs of birds, and creatures that definitely have minds of their own. Davidson's engravings depict a multitude of animal life, and his striking black cover--adorned with the yellow eyes of creatures yet to be made--is perfect for a book of myths that sparkle with drama, humor, pathos and beauty. All ages. (Mar.)