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When Woman Became the Sea: A Costa Rican…

When Woman Became the Sea: A Costa Rican Creation Myth

by Susan Strauss

Other authors: Cristina Acosta (Illustrator)

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The creation story of the Cabécar and Bribri peoples of Costa Rica is retold in this lovely picture-book, which explains how trees came to be, and why they are so intimately connected to water. "In the long-ago time," it begins, "Sibu was creating the world..." Becoming aware that something is missing from his new world, Sibu attempts to enlist the help of Thunder, in order to discover what it could be, creating the first woman - the Sea - in order to attract his attention. It is the Sea, however, who eventually discovers what is needed...

An engaging, colloquial narrative from professional storyteller Susan Strauss is paired with vibrantly colorful illustrations from Cristina Acosta, giving When Woman Became the Sea great visual and storytelling appeal. I was struck, in the course of my reading, by two things: first, that this tale reveals how important both trees and water are to the Cabecar and Bribri - hardly surprising, when one considers that they make their home in Costa Rica's Cloud Forest - and second, that it provides a welcome contrast to both the Abrahamic myth of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the classical Greek story of Pandora, in which a woman's curiosity leads to disaster. Here, when Straus writes "Oh, how the world is changed, when a woman begins to wonder!" it is clearly meant to be taken in a positive light, a celebration of the Sea's role - vis-a-vis her curiosity (and disobedience) - in providing the blessings of the world.

The author's brief foreword, "Finding the Science in the Myth" is also very welcome, laying out the important connection between folklore and science - how the tales of the ancients were really just another way of trying to examine and understand reality. Highly recommended! ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Genre: Myth

Review: Through the use of an old Costa Rican myth, the author creates a vivid description of how the world began many many years ago. This myth comes from the Cabecar and Bribri people of Costa Rica and describes the correlation between trees and water.

Point of view: This story is written in the omniscient point of view. The narrator within the story, knows what everyone is thinking and feeling, which allows the reader to know everything that is going on in the story. Or at least as much that is disclosed.

Media: Acrylic paints
  etimmons08 | Feb 26, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Straussprimary authorall editionscalculated
Acosta, CristinaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Sibu creates a woman to be the wife of Thunder but when she asserts her independence from both of them, a spectacular tree and all the beautiful waters of the world spring forth from her.
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Sibu creates a woman to be the wife of Thunder but when she asserts her independence from both of them, a spectacular tree and all the beautiful waters of the world spring forth from her.

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