Cover image for The first strawberries : a Cherokee story
The first strawberries : a Cherokee story
Bruchac, Joseph, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[New York] : Puffin Books, 1998.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm.
A quarrel between the first man and the first woman is reconciled when the Sun causes strawberries to grow out of the earth.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993.
Reading Level:

AD 320 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 9579.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 03954 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.C5 B885 1993C Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



From an award-winning Native American storyteller comes this captivating re-telling of a Cherokee legend, which explains how strawberries came to be.

Long ago, the first man and woman quarrelled. The woman left in anger, but the Sun sent tempting berries to Earth to slow the wife's retreat. Luminous paintings perfectly complement this simple, lyrical text.

"Complete harmony of text and pictures: altogether lovely."-- Kirkus Reviews , pointer review

Author Notes

Joseph Bruchac ( is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two , Skeleton Man , and The Heart of a Chief . For more information about Joseph, please visit his website

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. At the beginning of the world, a man and a woman marry and live happily together until, one day, the wife picks flowers instead of preparing dinner. Stung by her husband's anger and his coldness, the woman vows to leave him and swiftly walks away. He cannot catch up with her, so the remorseful man enlists the help of the sun, which magically makes first raspberries, then blueberries, then blackberries spring up beside her path. But only when a carpet of strawberries appears before her does she stop, pick, and eat. Their sweetness leads her to forgive her husband, and they are reunited. This Cherokee tale explains the origin of strawberries and reminds us "that friendship and respect are as sweet as the taste of ripe, red berries." Told simply and directly, the tale reads well. The artwork, combining watercolors with color pencils, celebrates the natural world simplified, softened, and sunlit. A delectable choice for reading aloud, with or without a basketful of wild strawberries to pass around. ~--Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bruchac ( Keepers of the Earth ; Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back ) once again brings simplicity and lyricism to his interpretation of Native American legend. The Cherokee tale told here explains the origin of various berries and, in the process, presents an unspoken but powerful case for respecting one another and the earth. The first man and woman live in harmony, until one day the man speaks in anger and the woman leaves him, walking so fast he cannot catch her. Regretting his outburst, he appeals to the sun, who agrees to help by slowing the woman's pace--creating in her path raspberries, then blueberries, blackberries and, finally, strawberries, which ``glow like fire in the grass.'' Stopping to taste one, the woman finds that its sweetness ``reminds her of how happy she and her husband had been together,'' and she decides to share the fruit with her husband. Spare text, an uncomplicated story line and gentle illustrations keep this quiet but resonant tale accessible to even the youngest child. Vojtech's soft, luminous watercolors conjure up an unspoiled landscape bathed in sunlight--visual reinforcement of the idea that the earth and its wonders are indeed gifts. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved