cover image Sun, Moon, and Stars

Sun, Moon, and Stars

Mary Hoffman. Dutton Books, $22.5 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46004-6

Hoffman and Ray look to the heavens in this sparkling collection of myths and legends from around the world, a follow-up to their companion book Earth, Fire, Water, Air. Hoffman's colloquial tone whisks readers through a volume chockablock with captivating tales inspired by the wonders of science and the natural world. With examples from ancient Egypt and Julius Caesar's Rome, the beginning segment establishes the sky as storybook, map and calendar. Subsequent sections on sun, moon and stars combine lesser-known tales with those of Phaeton, who meets his death trying to drive his father's chariot of the sun across the sky; Caribbean trickster/spider man Anancy, who gives the moon to his children; and the ""Circle of Beasts,"" a description of all 12 signs of the zodiac. Hoffman also provides brief, captionlike superstitions, sayings and traditions in spreads entitled ""Sunlore,"" ""Moonlore"" and ""Starlore."" As accompaniment to a text spanning cultures, lands and histories, Ray offers a varied tapestry of dreamlike images that combine elements of fantasy with intricate folk art borders and motifs. For each passage, she sets a dramatically different stage, incorporating dazzling costumes and designs from Native American, Aztec and Japanese traditions, among others. Many of the paintings also glitter with flashes of gold or silver, befitting a book about the brightest lights of the sky. All ages. (Oct.)