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STARRY TALES by Geraldine McCaughrean


by Geraldine McCaughrean & illustrated by Sophy Williams

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83015-7
Publisher: McElderry

McCaughrean maintains the dizzyingly high standards of The Golden Hoard (1996) and its sequels with this thematic collection of sky myths and legends. Associated with cultures as diverse as Ancient Rome and the Cook Islands, the 15 tales explain, among other things, rainbows, thunder, falling stars, the origin of night, and why the sun and moon live far apart. Whether love stories, tragedies, accounts of heroic deeds or trickster tales, all are likely to be new to young readers, even those as widely told as “Orion’s Downfall” and the Chinese “Bridge of Magpies.” McCaughrean retells them with characteristic vigor: “With sulfur from the hot springs, with magma from the volcanoes, [the gods] fashioned a foe to send against Orion: an insect that wore its skeleton on the outside for armor, a creature the color of rage and venom . . .” Williams’s indistinct, ordinary-looking figures seldom capture the tales’ drama, and while McCaughrean closes with comments on each story, there are no specific source notes. Still, this extends the scope of such Native American gatherings as Gretchen Mayo’s Star Tales (1987), and readers will be captivated by the range of visions here. (Folktales. 9-12)