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

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

John Bierhorst. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10680-5

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.)