In this multicultural mashup, the duo behind Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella (2007) weaves a wonderfully chaotic creation story.
It all begins with darkness. Fleischman’s retelling then slips through bits and pieces of creation tales culled from cultures originating in Egypt, Mali, the Banks Islands, Israel, and many other geographical locations. Commonalities and unifying themes among the disparate stories soon arise. These threads depend on the details: the first humans born from the tears of the sun god, Ra (Egypt), Quat making the first humans out of wood and bringing them to life with the beat of a drum (Banks Islands), and so on. Woven together, the tales both contrast against and emphasize one another’s specificities. Much of the cohesiveness is due to Paschkis’ folk-art illustrations, which once again shine. Bold lines and vibrant colors characterize most spreads; curves, sharp diagonal lines, and other striking shapes coalesce as each scene spills into the next. One particular double-page spread depicting human-caused destruction (Mozambique) and an angry God setting fire to the earth (Gabon) embodies this pictorial unity to an electrifying degree. Yet the narrative stumbles a bit under its weight. Certain scenes flow better together, while others pull attention in different directions. Still, this wide canvas amazes.
An origin tale as messy as humans can be. (author’s note) (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)