Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):


The Man in the Moon: Sky Tales from Many Lands.  “Fire and the Moon”, p. 18.  Jablow, Alta

and Carl Withers.   New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  1969.


Ethnic Origin:  


                Papua, New Guinea


Running Time:    7 minutes



Power Center(s):

                Characterizations: Old Woman’s greed/selfishness, the powerlessness of the people, the Boy’s curiosity.

                Events: The discovery of the moon hidden in the pot; the moon’s escape




                Old Woman

                Young Boy

                People of the village (background)



                Old Woman’s mistreatment of the village

                Boy sneaks in, discovers moon

                Moon escapes, Boy is unable to recover



                Old Woman possesses the secret of fire, doesn’t share with the community.  Curious Boy(s) search for the secret, and discover the moon hidden in a pot in Old Woman’s hut.  Looking at it, it escapes through the roof.  Boy try to capture it when it gets caught in a tree, but it slips from his grasp and climbs into the sky, where we can see it, still smudged from the dirt on his hands.




Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":




Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

                This version is intended for early elementary (1st and 2nd graders), an age at which they are developing a sense of curiosity about why things in their world are as they are.  They may have been exposed to Western creation stories (and perhaps those from other cultures), so they have an awareness that this is a fantasy which tries to explain something they have seen.  It begins with events/characterizations within their direct experience (fire has power and is restricted; people, especially adults, who have something that others don’t sometimes lord it over them), recreates their curiosity,  and moves toward a “just” conclusion.  It also (hopefully) has humorous elements and an unspoken moral.  (From Huck, 1993)






Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

                Jablow has collected a number of stories that retell how the moon came to be in the sky, and where its markings came from, or what they represent.  This is the only story I saw that attempted to do both, so it is unique in that aspect.

                She has an Algerian story about the markings on the moon coming from a young boy – “The First Tears” (p. 10) tells about an orphan whose sorrow and tears are borne away by a compassionate moon, which is marked permanently.

                Another, from the Masai of Africa, tells about Sun and Moon fighting, and how the marks on the moon are bruises and scars from the battle.  The sun blushes so from shame that people cannot look at it.  (“The Brawl Between Sun and Moon”, p. 19.)


                I also liked “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky” in How the People Sang the Mountains Up by Maria Leach.  (New York: Viking Press.  1967.)  This African tale tells how the overenthusiastic host, the Sun and his wife the Moon, are washed out of their house by their friend Water, and have to climb up into the sky.



Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc.  Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.


                As noted above, this story is unique in its combined approach, which is why I selected it; however, based on Jablow’s terse reporting of the various tales, it is difficult to sense the original flavors or features of the variants. 


“Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky” is probably the most visual of the tales – the excitement of the hosts, followed by the flowing in of the water people (who repeatedly ask “Are you sure there is enough room?” even as the Sun and Moon climb onto the roof) – makes it a good tale to “have”, and one which could be adapted to be told to nearly any audience.