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The Story

“Long ago, when Earth was new

and Sky was black as printer’s ink,

two stories fell like shooting stars.”

The two shining fables contained in this unusual book—Fox’s Story and Bear’s Story—tell of a time when first the sun, then the moon, tumble from the sky. When Fox finds the sun caught like a beating heart in the branches of a tree, he and the other animals become entangled in an old tale of greed and power. But when Bear sees Moon slip through a buttonhole of sky, the animals remember Bear’s stories and work together to try to put things right. While the animals struggle with foolishness and confusion, with wisdom and courage, it is the reader who is invited to say which story is true.

Valiska Gregory’s rich and lyrical stories convey subtle truths about the value of peace, the fragility of the environment, and the power of stories.  Stefano Vitale’s stunning and passionate paintings on wood combine folk motifs with dramatic black lines and vivid colors. Together author and artist have created an unforgettable and thought-provoking book.

The Story Behind the Story

This book was written partly out of anger, and partly out of hope.   I had watched the evening news, night after night, horrified by film footage of conflicts around the globe:  a lone gunman in Scotland, starving children in Rwanda, bombings in the Middle East, England, the United States.  There was one visual image in particular that I could not get out of my head.  The image haunted me:  it was of a street in Bosnia where children had been caught in the cross-fire.  Their bodies were lined up like ragged coffins in the street—so small and so very still.  I remember feeling incredibly angry, and the phrase that kept echoing in my head was:  “There are other choices that can be made.  We must learn to make other choices.”  Not long after, I awakened with the beginning poem in my head, and like a good scribe, I took it down.

Unlike other books on these topics, the format of When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars offers readers a choice between two stories.  The book is about choices, and about the responsibility we have to choose wisely—so that we can live together in peace and harmony on this planet and preserve our earth’s sustaining beauty.  It is also a book about the power of stories to help us write not only the stories of our own lives, but the story of our collective future as it might be.


When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars

By Valiska Gregory

Illustrated by Stephano Vitale