cover image Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air

Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air

Natalia M. Belting. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16.95 (7pp) ISBN 978-0-395-53806-7

From the native tribes of South America come 14 novel creation myths. Some are presented in poetic form, while others, such as the Cayapo Indian myth ``What Happened When Armadillo Dug a Hole in the Sky,'' are told as stories. The lyrical Cayapo tale concerns a race that once lived in the sky. One day, a hunter chases an armadillo into a hole and when his prey breaks through the bottom of the sky, the man glimpses the beautiful land below. He convinces the villagers to make a rope, on which many descend, but a few cautious ones do not--and the rope is cut. ``The villagers who waited to think are still in the sky. They are the stars. And the people who came down had no way to return. They are the Ancestors.'' Belting's lean prose has a staccato tempo aptly suited to the oral nature of these tales, and Hillenbrand's illustrations are appropriately dark and mysterious. His artwork is reminiscent at times of Gauguin (especially the female figures), but the palette is deeper, drawing heavily on earth tones. One minor annoyance: the pages on which the text is printed exhibit a slightly marbled effect, which occasionally makes the words difficult to read. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)