Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky
Sun and his wife, the moon, lived on Earth and built a large house so that the water people could visit. But so many poured in that they were forced to move to the sky.
The Nigerian folk tale “Why the Sun and Moon Live in the Sky” is widely read in American elementary schools. Elphinestone Dayrell’s picture book version, first published in 1968, has beautiful illustrations by Blair Lent. This children’s tale introduces the sun and his good friend, water. The sun visits the water often, but the water never visits the sun. The sun — who seems sad — asks him why; and the water says, “Well, if you want me to visit you, you’ll have to build me a very big house.” So the sun goes home to his wife, the moon, and tells her of the request. Apparently she approves, for the sun builds a very big house, and just as promised, the water visits, bringing along his friends, the water animals and fish and water people and so forth. Now water is knee-deep in the house, and he grows concerned, but the sun and moon assure him the house is still safe. Soon water fills the giant house to the brim, and the sun and moon climb up to the roof. Eventually the water covers pretty much everything up to the sky, where the sun and moon live today. This is a domestic myth about friendship, poignant and bright.