I am trying to identify a 'Creation myth' story I read from childhood that seems to stump Library of Congress librarians and local librarians. I've also used reddit, Abebooks booksleuth, Loganberry books 'book finder', goodreads forums, and more.

The story begins with many gods/deities in the universe that have just finished creating a world, and they are quarrelling amongst each other because no object or creature in the world was given a name yet. So the deities decide to create a boy (or assign a boy, I don't remember exactly how they pick the boy) in the newly created world the task of naming everything for them. Thus, the boy goes on many adventures travelling to distant places and giving names to everything.

So for example, if the boy came across an object or creature, he would ask the gods "What is this called?" and they would respond something like "That's up to you to decide" along those lines.

The author could have had influence or have been inspired by foreign creation stories/myths/legends (Indian/Arabic, possibly Greek/Persian/Chinese?). It is also possible that the book could have been translated into English from another language.

The copy I had was a hardback may have had a dustjacket, color was offwhite with decent spine thickness ((roughly 5/5.5 x 8" dimensions, about .5" thick). It was published before 1998, and could be from any decade before the 90s. The cover was colorful, featuring an illustrated image of the boy looking down on a cloud, with short black hair, wearing white (his eyes are looking downward) with a celestial background I've drawn an image from memory of the cover. It may not be 100% but I know for sure the boy had black hair and was featured on the cover. The gods may have been elemental gods (god of wind, thunder, etc), so you will notice lightning, wind, and little details to represent the elements. Backdrop is celestial, featuring the moon, stars, etc.

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If any story with a similar premise comes to mind, please post! If its similar, it may be it!

  • 2
    Goodreads, Goodreads, Reddit, Reddit, and LibraryThing queries for reference.Not Neverending Story or Little Prince
    – smooshie
    Aug 4, 2015 at 4:55
  • 1
    There is a general naming in Lafferty's "And Name My Name". Of course that's not what you're looking for, because it's a short story, and because it's a man doing the naming.
    – user14111
    Aug 4, 2015 at 9:06
  • 2
    I thought in the Bible Adam had to name every living creature.
    – Zikato
    Aug 5, 2015 at 14:48
  • 1
    @Timewarp I know this goes without saying, please return with the answer. This is very intriguing.
    – zer00ne
    Aug 14, 2015 at 18:03
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    Emailing every public library? You must have really liked this book.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 13, 2016 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


Are you sure it's not Neverending Story? The characters in the story are being erased because the child-like empress needs a new name and no one in their world can give names, so they summon a boy reading the book to their world to rename the child-like empress. He then goes about defining things in their world, and creating new creatures. So, are you sure that is not The Neverending Story?

  • Can you provide any snippets of text that suggest similarity?
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:06
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    “Only the right name gives beings and things their reality. A wrong name makes everything unreal. That's what lies do.” ― Michael Ende, The Neverending Story
    – kelth
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:20
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    “The Nothing is spreading," groaned the first. "It's growing and growing, there's more of it every day, if it's possible to speak of more nothing. All the others fled from Howling Forest in time, but we didn't want to leave our home. The Nothing caught us in our sleep and this is what it did to us." "Is it very painful?" Atreyu asked. "No," said the second bark troll, the one with the hole in his chest. "You don't feel a thing. There's just something missing. And once it gets hold of you, something more is missing every day. Soon there won't be anything left of us.”
    – kelth
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:21
  • You can press here to edit them into your answer
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 19, 2017 at 1:48

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