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In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World Paperback – September 15, 1991


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152387420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152387426
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to PW , "Moser's watercolors gleam like jewels amid the setting of the text. His people and creatures gaze out at readers, as if to challenge their imaginations to comprehend the chaos before creation." Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up Twenty-five creation myths from such diverse cultures as China, Tahiti, Micronesia, and Australia. Illustrated with 42 dramatic , full-color paintings, this is a handsome representative collection. Hamilton's introduction briefly defines creation myths and places them within the formal cultural structure that gives them authority. Her commitment to stay true to the simplicity of style of many creation myths results in some brilliant retellings, complete with the clarity of vision and fluidity of language synonymous with her work. While most of these retold myths are highly successful, others lack the precision of the ``perfect word'' associated with Hamilton. (One example is the jarring use of the modern word ``aide,'' as in aides to a god in a Zambian creation myth.) Although the placement of the explanatory notes at the end of each myth is less effective than if they were placed at the beginning, the book is handsomely designed. Each myth opens with a striking full-page painting, each of which is truly evocative and powerful in design and content. Text and illustrations together result in a strong, effective piece of work. Janice M. Del Negro, Chicago Public Lib .
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Virginia Esther Hamilton was born, as she said, "on the outer edge of the Great Depression," on March 12, 1934. The youngest of five children of Kenneth James and Etta Belle Perry Hamilton, Virginia grew up amid a large extended family in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The farmlands of southwestern Ohio had been home to her mother's family since the late 1850s, when Virginia's grandfather, Levi Perry, was brought into the state as an infant via the Underground Railroad.

Virginia graduated at the top of her high-school class and received a full scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs. In 1956, she transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus and majored in literature and creative writing. She moved to New York City in 1958, working as a museum receptionist, cost accountant, and nightclub singer, while she pursued her dream of being a published writer. She studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research under Hiram Haydn, one of the founders of Atheneum Press.

It was also in New York that Virginia met poet Arnold Adoff. They were married in 1960. Arnold worked as a teacher, and Virginia was able to devote her full attention to writing, at least until daughter Leigh was born in 1963 and son Jaime in 1967. In 1969, Virginia and Arnold built their "dream home" in Yellow Springs, on the last remaining acres of the old Hamilton/Perry family farm, and settled into a life of serious literary work and achievement.

In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography. Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as "Liberation Literature." She won every major award in youth literature.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book works well as a read-aloud for as young as preschool age.
J. Stout
This compilation of world creation myths is a very interesting and informational book; well written, and has beautiful paintings to accompany each creation myth.
R. Maidl
We borrowed this book from the library, and my daughter liked it so much we bought it for her.
Susan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Dreaming Kat on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer said that s/he couldn't understand why this was listed as a children's book. All I can say is that while I would love to think our first grader is a genius, he lets us know when a story is over his head. When it's a little too hard, he'll ask questions. When it's a lot too hard, he'll give up and let his attention wander. He asks questions occasionally with this book, but he'll ask for me to read the next one about half of the time too.

I also enjoyed the stories, and as an adult can get more out of the book than a kid. But one of the great things about a good story is that it's layered and different levels of comprehension can all enjoy it.

The pictures of the deities were not what I expected the deity to look like, but they are beautiful. It may also be worth noting that the versions the myths given here may or may not be "just like" versions you've seen elsewhere. Considering none are offered in their original language, and we've enjoyed these retellings, I don't have a problem with that. But I know some might.

The strongest point of the book in my mind is that it really is World mythology. It's a little skimpy on South America, and a tad strong on Greek and Middle Eastern, but it does have a variety of stories. All the inhabited continents are covered once.

North America: 4

South America: 1

Asia: 5

Africa: 4

Europe: 4 + russia

Oceania (Australia and Islands): 5

Each myth is followed by a short blurb about the people from which it came. At the end of the book there is a list of Useful Sources. I would have prefered the Table of Contents list the origin of the story in some fashion (part of the world, name of the people, etc), but since I now own a copy, I can pencil that in myself. :)
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the perfect book to introduce readers of all ages to the creation myths of different religons and cultures. In these days when the teaching of evolution and modern cosmology are controversial, this book provides valuable perspective on the way different people have accounted for the earth and its inhabitants. It should be required reading for all public school administrators, and would be a valuable addition to any school (or home) library.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this collection of tales, creation stories from around the world are retold by Virginia Hamilton. The book is beautifully illustrated with explanations included (for adults) about the choice of creation stories, and the categories they fall into. Reading this reminded me of the books of Greek myths I once read as a child. However, nothing I've ever seen compares to the beauty found within this collection's pages. Easily concerned parents beware. These stories haven't been rendered politically correct, nor have they been altered for modern sensibilities. In many tales, women are usually the catalysts of any problems with the world and violence occurs with steady regularity. Do not let this put you off. Though different, this is a text that deserves to be seen by all children from all walks of life.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Santaella on May 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
It says quite clearly that this book is for grades 6 and up. I believe it also says ages 12 and up in another section, but I think where people get really confused (and I have seen this many times on Amazon) is where further down it says "ages 4-8".

I am pretty sure that this is meant to be grades 4-8 (here and on other pages as well), which makes more sense given the complexity of the subject matter and vocabulary.

I would still consider this a children's book, although I can see how adults who have been raised on (and passed on to their children) dumbed-down junk literature might be suprised that children can (and do) enjoy complex and layered literature with a varied and rich vocabulary as much as adults.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Maidl on October 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This compilation of world creation myths is a very interesting and informational book; well written, and has beautiful paintings to accompany each creation myth. I find it intriguing that many cultures from around the world separated by continents, oceans, mountains, and time can have many similar characteristics and yet be all distinct and different from each other.

Cultures' and religions' myths featured include: Greek, Jewish, Christian, Mayan, Minyong, Egyptian, Marshallese, Tahitian, Babylonian, Nigerian, Icelandic, Zambian, Huron, Krachi, Northern Aranda Aborigine, Chinese, and many more for a total of 25 myths. One thing I would like to have been different was to have fewer Greek mythology tales and have had more lesser-known (or unknown) myths, and represented an even wider range of cultures from around the world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Gresham on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
With a little bit of interpretation, this book is fine for younger children. My 5-year old is already curious about the where the world came from. This book is a great way for her to begin to consider the historical context of the biblical creation story. We read the stories (for now I omit a few of the passages about death and suffering), and then we look at a globe to see where each story came from. We discuss how different people looked around at their world and drew different conclusions about it. We also read children's books about the big bang and evolution, and talk about why modern people see the world in a new way. The main point is that all people are curious about their world and feel connected to it in different ways.
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