The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales

Photo credit: Barefoot Books

Living mindfully isn't a new concept; our lives were once irrevocably interwoven with the natural landscape, as folk tales from traditional cultures will attest. These old yarns conjure up Sun Mothers and Great Spirits, talking animals and fairy babies, hidden gold and magic gardens that sprout overnight.

You'll find seven of these wondrous stories, gathered from all corners of the world—Australia, Nigeria, the American Southwest, Bali, Kazakhstan, India, and Wales—in The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales ($19.99), written by Dawn Casey and stunningly illustrated by Anne Wilson.
Photo credit: Barefoot Books

"Why the Sky is So Far Away," an African myth, transports us back to a time when the sky was so close to the ground we could reach up and tear off pieces to eat. But one woman squandered the sky's generous gifts, driving our former ally to flee high beyond our grasp.

"I gave you all you needed, its voice floated down to Osato, "but still you took more. I cannot stand such green. I must leave. I will not return."

"But how will we live?" wept Osato. "What will we eat?"

There was silence.

Osato's tears fell to the Earth. And the Earth spoke. "Dry your tears," it said gently. "I can feed you. But you will have to work for your living. You will have to learn to plow fields and sow seeds and harvest crops. And remember what you have learned today. Take only what you need. And I will give it gladly."

"The story is hundreds of years old," Casey writes in the introduction to the tale, "yet it offers a timely reminder to consume less and conserve more."

Other fables explore our interconnectedness with the rest of the living world, the importance of protecting our little patch of earth, and how our callousness can spell misery for our neighbors.

Photo credit: Barefoot Books

Each story is followed by a hands-on craft activity thematically tied to the lessons it delved into, whether it's turning leftovers into a tasty soup or making a pinecone birdfeeder. In keeping with Earth Tales' environmental message, Eco-Libris will plant a tree for every copy of the book sold.

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Tags: Books | Conservation


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