First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story

by Paul Fleischman

illustrated by Julie Paschkis

From different religious and cultural traditions come different creation stories, and this book weaves many together in a single narrative. In China, the world begins with darkness, while in Fiji, there is only water; and in Mali there is only a drop of milk. The God of Israel speaks light into existence, while the Raven of Alaska steals a ball of light and drops some for the people. When there was only water, the Nigerian Obatala creates land from a single snail shell. Egypt’s sun god, Ra, creates the first humans from his own tears; and Arizona’s Spider Woman mixes four different kinds of soil together, wraps them in a cape, and sings a song to create humans. In accounts of creators’ judgment, the God of Gabon calls thunder to work with lightning to set fire to the earth, and the water God of Mexico—one of several flood stories—floods the earth. As the flood recedes, the good people who had been spared begin life again. This fascinating compilation of stories proves surprisingly coherent and shows the commonalities among cultures seeking answers about the origins of the world. Bright and primitive illustrations evoke the cultures depicted, and one illustration flows seamlessly into another in clever two-page spreads. The Author’s Note at the beginning offers sources for further reading about creation stories.

Reviewer: Michele Hughes