Cover image for Sun, moon, and stars
Sun, moon, and stars
Hoffman, Mary, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
74 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Discusses the stories which people from the ancient world told to explain their understanding of what they could see in the sky.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL311 .H57 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



'Few books for children attempt the richness of ideas and pictures found here,? wrote Booklist about Earth, Fire, Water, Air. Now, in this stunning sequel, the lush folkloric illustration style of Jane Ray augments the fluid storytelling of Mary Hoffman to explore the eternal mysteries of the heavens'the sun, moon, and stars. This well-researched and highly readable book presents myths and legends gathered from all over, including China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, the Caribbean, and North America. Accompanying these stories are pages of fascinating folk beliefs, sayings, and rhymes of skylore.Jane Ray's sumptuous illustrations, rich with silver and gold, are more exquisite than ever. The smooth, captionlike text makes the book ideal for browsing; its wide range will coordinate with classroom units on ancient astronomy, myths, legends, and cultural history. Sure to please young and old alike.Jane Ray and Mary Hoffman both live in England.

Author Notes

Children's author and reviewer Mary Hoffman was born in 1945. She attended Newnham College to study English literature and University College London to study linguistics. She started writing in 1970 and has written about eighty children's books including the picture book Amazing Grace, the Stravaganza series, and the anti-war anthology Lines in the Sand. She is also the editor of the children's book review magazine Armadillo, which comes out four times a year.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6, younger for reading aloud. This companion piece to the duo's Earth, Fire, Water, Air (1996) combines facts and lore and Ray's glorious pictures into a resource that can be used in many ways. "The sky is a vast storybook . . . but it doesn't tell the same stories to everyone." Following an introduction that explains how the ancients looked at the sky, the book is divided by each element in the title. Stories from various cultures, including the Egyptian, Korean, Chinese, Aztec, and Navajo, are augmented by bits of information and lore that enrich the book. Hoffman's story selection is excellent and carefully sourced; most of the retellings will hold readers' attention, though the prose is occasionally stiff. Ray's pictures, on the other hand, soar. Spreads, sidebars, and full-page pictures are intricately designed and executed, touched as usual with bits of silver and gold. A particularly handsome piece of bookmaking that will spark imaginations. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In this splendid collaboration following Earth, Fire, Water, Air (Dutton, 1995), the author's lean style again complements the artist's lush one. More than 20 legends and myths from around the world surrounding the "appearance and movement of the sun, moon, and stars" are interspersed with bits of factual information and lore. Succinctly but resonantly retold, the stories show the sky as a blank screen on which every culture projects its imagination. There are Latvian, Aztec-Mayan, Korean, Hindu, and Australian-Aboriginal examples, as well as better-known Greek (Phaëton, Cassiopeia), Norse, English, and Japanese tales. A brief section "About the Stories" cites some very eclectic sources. The brilliant pictures, spattered with silver and gold, exactly suit the heavenly subjects. Ray adapts her signature style to suggest the artistic traditions of each story's cultural origin. Folklike frames, intricately patterned textiles, and naive compositions are both dense and accessible, and the depth and variety of hues are a delight. A more romantic or engaging introduction to myths of the cosmos could hardly be imagined.-Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.