***ForeWord Magazine YA Fiction Bronze Award
A Notable Social Studies Trade
for Young People 2006
Women Writing the West Young Adult
by Ann Howard Creel
This is the story of Echo, born in a lucky month when the moon
Gr. 6 UP—Echo Song’s love of
birdcalls earned her her name, but her first name was Born of the Stand
Still Moon, for the rare lunar position at the time of her birth. ... This
spare and lyrical tale offers readers a peek into what life must have been
like for the “Ancient Ones,” who lived in the Southwest United States over
1000 years ago. Creel awakens their daily life through archaeological
records and the development of her characters to create a rich story of a
peaceful farming community and the young woman who sacrifices all she
loves to save it.
"UNDER A STAND STILL MOON
could easily be this generation's ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. It was a
real page-turner for me, at 192 pages; I was sorry it was over so soon. It
is intriguing historical fiction, set in the Southwestern United States
“Under A Stand Still Moon is an incredible journey back into the
time and place of the great Anasazi civilization. Ann Howard Creel deftly
brings these ancient people to life. I became the girl Echo, lived her joys,
sorrows and triumphs.”
"A valuable teaching tool for history,
culture studies, family studies, as well as Native
American studies. It would serve as an excellent collaborative text
between the social sciences and language arts."
"Under a Stand Still Moon touched me on an indefinable level, yet I try to define and identify it. Even as I make this statement, I find myself attempting to explain emotions evoked by the saga of a young Native American girl and her family to you, my readers, all the while silently pleading with unseen powers that my meanings be clear.
It is a romantic tale; it is a historical epic tabulating important traits of the people who first inhabited this great land of ours. Ann Howard Creel tells it in excruciatingly poignant tones that wring the reader’s emotions dry, insuring her reading audiences will be pushed to their limits. We are involuntarily transmitted from highs to lows, from the heights of hope to the depths of despair, from exhilaration to melancholy.
Under a Stand Still Moon is a tale of beginnings. In it, we meet Summer Girl, "Born of the Stand Still Moon." It’s a time when children were named by when and where they began:
“…it is Father who has told me the story of my birth many times over. That I entered this world under a Stand Still Moon, a rare season when the Moon halts its course in the sky and rises nightly between the two rock pinnacles, our Twin War Gods.”
It’s a time when we knew what we were and why we were:
“My first name, Born of the Stand Still Moon, served to remind everyone in our village that much would be expected of me, that much honor would I bring to the Waterfall Clan…”
In the Anasazi tradition, this young girl who, from an early age, knows her purpose for being will become yet another entity, Echo—shortened from Echo Song, a name given her by her father because her voice echoes throughout the mesa in song—still destined to bring honor and life to her people. The Anasazi (Navajo for “ancient ones”) were an ancient native North American people whose successors include the Pueblo of present day northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona.
Creel tells this story in present tense and first person through the eyes of the young girl who will, unexpectedly, fall in love with Falcon, her older brother Jumping Fish’s best friend, whom she will give up to marry another to save her clan and village. Her character and inner strength become evident in that act of sacrifice in one so young. Not even the shattering of innocent and passion-filled dreams of a true, guileless love as that shared by these two young idealistic dreamers can cause Echo to view her plight in a negative light.
Written for the young adult market, this is an intriguing and informative read - a refreshing read - and receives the highest rating I could give it - 5 out of 5 stars, but I’d give it at least twice that rating if I could. This is a delightful choice for summer reading, geared for young adults yet suitable for younger readers. Parents need not be concerned about language; themes on marriage and the clan’s preparing its young for entering that phase of life might remind one of a much simpler and gentler time in our own culture and traditions.
more about the Pueblo and their descent from the Anasazi follow these
Anasazi Culture: The Old Ones of the Southwest by David Roberts.
About the Author
Ann Howard Creel is the author of three previous
books for young adults—Water at the Blue Earth, A Ceiling of Stars, and
Nowhere, Now Here. She is also the author of the adult novel The Magic of
Ordinary Days, recently produced as a major (and best-selling) Hallmark
Hall of Fame presentation.
Under A Stand Still Moon
I looked up. On the edge of the bright fireball of the Sun, I could see a darkening, as if something were closing down upon the Sun, blocking out its light. I had never seen this before, yet I had heard of it. In years past, this had happened before, but the Priests had managed to save the Sun. Still, it was one of the most frightening of all the tales ever told around the fireside in the winter.
"Stop planting," Father said to all of us. "This is very bad medicine. We must consult the Priests."
We dropped our tools in the field and ran up the trails into the courtyards. Others were doing the same, abandoning their planting and running to the villages. Fear hung in the eyes that I gazed into, a fear of something dark and unknown.
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