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How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books) Paperback – March 3, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to the Navajos, the jumble of stars in the night sky reflects the disorders and confusion of life itself. In this lyrical retelling Oughton--in her first children's book--paints a picture of calm deliberation as, at the beginning of the world, First Woman determines to write the laws in the sky for all to see. So she positions her jewelry "crafting her careful mosaic on the blackberry cloth of night." Coyote offers to help with this important task but becomes impatient and sends a cascade of stars hurtling into the night, creating chaos for all time. Oughton's text echoes First Woman's self-confidence and is sprinkled throughout with deft turns of phrase. Desimini's somber yet luminous art evokes nature's solemn beauty as it captures the silent mystery of the "rim of night." Her solid, slightly static figures firmly place this fantasy-like world of the desert in reality. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-- At the end of the first day, First Woman tries to convince First Man that ``The people need to know the laws.'' Impatiently, he tells her to write them in the sky. She takes a blanket full of her jewels (stars) and with infinite patience begins ``designing her pattern so all could read it.'' Coyote asks to help, but when he sees the magnitude of the task he grumbles, then flings the remaining stars into the night sky, forever obscuring the pattern. As the second day dawns, the people go about their lives, ``. . . never knowing the reason for the confusion that would always dwell among them.'' This Navajo tale acknowledges the common human feeling that there IS a message in the stars--the laws of a clear and orderly universe--if it could be read. It absolves humans of guilt (Coyote did it) and provides a First Woman who is a strong, positive, and beneficent figure. The concise and graceful text is matched with illustrations in a primitive but dramatic vein, marked by simplified shapes, saturated matte colors, and desert-stark composition. The claret-sandstone earth and deep lapis sky, meeting at a curved horizon, dominate most pages; the white of eyes and starlight punctuate the design. This handsome book might well fit into a myth or Native American collection, but it can stand on its own timely and attractive merits as well.
- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Extension, Seattle
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books edition (March 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395779383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395779385
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually purchased this book because I loved the cover art, and the title, "How the Stars Fell into the Sky," intrigued me. The image of the Navajo woman, star in hand, gazing up thoughtfully into the dark, "new" sky really captured and held my attention. I wanted to read this book! :) I also felt that it would be worth sharing and discussing with my students.

The illustrations are amazing; they feel warm, soft, and alive--not harsh or garish at all. Each image underscores the emotions and actions of this story of First Woman who wants to communicate laws to her people---present and future--in such away as the laws would always be accessible and always be remembered. She carefully places stars in certain patterns until the impatient, meddling Coyote offers to help--which eventually brings the woman grief and human beings confusion.

What's interesting about this story is the dynamic comparison / contrast that occurs with the main characters: First Man, First Woman, and Coyote. The First Man and the Coyote (Man and animal) are both extremely impatient to be getting onto other here and now "Life" activities while the First Woman considers the future, believing that writing the laws is necessary. Writing the laws requires time and careful efforts. It is a sacred duty she takes seriously. Thus, in this tale, the woman is the respectable, responsible, beyond-the-moment person and the dedicated law giver. (Some world legends and myths tend to place women in subservient roles and / or vilify them.) Her only mistake is trusting the Coyote to help her. [Perhaps, this is the warning embedded in the story: beware of "animal instincts," "urges," and haste because they can cause unhappiness, discord, and disorder.
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Format: Hardcover
My son is in 2nd grade and they're doing a unit on Native Americans. We read this book together and enjoyed the story as well as the beautiful illustrations. This book also lends itself to do the shadowbox project that goes along with the class studies. I enjoyed the Navajo concept of how the stars are patterned in the sky. We would recommend this book for the 7-9 year old group.
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Format: Paperback
This is a thought provoking legend about the origin of the stars - the patterns and the absence of patterns to be found there. It contrasts human behaviour - represented by the first woman, with animal behaviour - represented by a coyote, and would be ideal for any child to hear, think about and to read. The illustrations are bold and vivid.
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Format: Paperback
This book has a message for every age. Our everyday lives are entwined in our work and all we hold important. This book, has within a few pages, alot of the dreams that we must reach for in our lives, and the obstacles that try to sway us. It shows that even when we do not reach our goals life goes on. We do not see the consequences just the outcome of behaviors, our own and that of others. I would reccommend this book to everyone..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to buy this for my sons K12 curriculum and it was actually a really neat story. We had never read it before, but we enjoyed it. It's something I can see us reading again and most likely passing on to others.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Honestly, this is the kind of book I would have read once as a child and then never looked at again. But my daughter loves it and asks for it every night at bed time. I do like the color and style of the pictures. I do like that the vocab steps it up a bit so that my child asks what a word means and thus learns a bit when I read to her.
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Format: Paperback
Beautiful book. The colors are so rich, and the personalities seem so lifelike. In this Navajo legend, First Woman's plan to write the law into the stars is going along very well, until Coyote the Trickster begins to help her. The law will be a guide to the people and it will help them live peaceful lives. But Coyote soon loses patience with the time consuming task, and flings the blanket full of stars to fall all over the sky.

The people have wandered in confusion since then.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is writen in the thoughts and belifes of the Native Americans. It is about how the starts got into the sky. I kids 4 and 14 love this book. I give it 5 stars.
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