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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 1995 19:17:01 -0700
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Date: 30 May 1995 03:38:22 GMT
From: brock@ucsub.Colorado.EDU (Steve Brock)
Subj: Reviews of Children's Books with Native American Themes

Reviews of Children's Books with Native American Themes

By Steve Brock, Kanoheda Aniyvwata (Native American News),
Vol. 17, no. 024, 30 May 1996

For ages 4-8:

CROW AND HAWK, written by Michael Rosen, illustrated by John Clementson. Harcourt Brace & Company, 525 B Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101, (800) 543-1918, (800) 235-0256 FAX. Illus- trated. 32 pp., $15.00 cloth. 0-15-200257-X

In this Pueblo Indian tale that parallels the Baby Jessica adoption case, Crow lays her eggs in a nest, tires of constantly sitting on it, and flies off. Hawk finds the eggs and decides to sit on these poor little eggs herself. They hatch, and Hawk rears the baby crows as her own. Later, Crow returns and wants the babies back, since she laid the eggs. Hawk replies that she sat on the eggs and fed and raised the hatchlings, so they do not belong to Crow anymore. Crow goes to Eagle, king of the birds, and is told that since she left the nest, she has lost the children. It's hard to imagine this story being a Pueblo tale, since all of the traditional elements have been stripped away and the story reads like a newspaper report. This blandness also extends to Clementson's paper collages, which he attempts to frame with an extremely unoriginal Indian pattern. There are only a few white authors who have been successful at retelling Native American stories, and Rosen fails miserably. Though the story may or may not be authentic, his lack of feeling in telling it is quite evident. Grade: C-.

HOW THUNDER AND LIGHTNING CAME TO BE, retold by Beatrice Orcutt Harrell with collages by Susan L. Roth. Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (212) 366-2000, (212) 366-2666 FAX. Illustrated, author's note. 32 pp., $14.99 cloth. 0-8037-1748-2

In her first published book, Choctaw writer Harrell tells the story of two foolish birds (one is big and slow, the other small and fast but clumsy) who are told by the Sun Father to warn his people about approaching weather disturbances. First, one leans out of the clouds and yells loudly. Next, they try running from village to village. The solution, of course, comes by accident, and the Sun Father is pleased at the birds inventiveness. The story is virtually taken-over, however, by Roth's vibrant collages - especially the bright, crackling lightning. I'm looking forward to more from this team. Grade: A-.

DID YOU HEAR THE WIND SING YOUR NAME?: AN ONEIDA SONG OF SPRING by Sandra De Coteau Orie, illustrated by Christopher Canyon. Walker and Company, 435 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (800) AT-WALKER, (212) 307-1764 FAX. Illustrated. 32 pp., $14.95 cloth. 0-8027-8351-1

Oneida author Orie asks children to share in the signs of Spring's rebirth - the warmth of the sun, the smell of cedar, the taste of thunder, the sight of the bright orange sunset. While some of the questions should be confusing, such as Did you see Trillium's Stars lying upon the Forest bed's heaven, they are, instead, strangely reassuring. The double-page illustrations by Canyon, a Cherokee, are outstanding. Grade: A-. For ages 6-10:

COYOTE AND LITTLE TURTLE: A TRADITIONAL HOPI TALE, told by Hershel Talashoema, translated and edited by Emory Sekaquaptewa and Barbara Pepper, illustrated by Hopi children. Illustrated (90 drawings), glossaries, grammar section. 95 pp., $14.95 cloth (0-940666-84-7), $9.95 paper (0-940666-85-5).

COYOTE AND THE WINNOWING BIRDS: A TRADITIONAL HOPI TALE, told by Eugene Sekaquaptewa, translated and edited by Emory Sekaquaptewa and Barbara Pepper, illustrated by Hopi children. Illustrated (75 drawings), glossaries, pronunciation section. 100 pp., $14.95 cloth (0-940666-86-7), $9.95 paper (0-940666-87-5). Both books are available from Clear Light Publishers, 823 Don Diego, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, (800) CLEAR47, (800) 253-2747, FAX: (505) 989-9519.

A collaborative effort by several organizations (notably the Institute for the Preservation of the Original Languages of the Americas, the Hopi Tribe Cultural Preservation Office, the Hotevilla-Bacavi Community School, and the University of Arizona's Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology), each of these books tells a story of how coyote is tricked by his own greed. Both are illustrated by Hopi schoolchildren, contain sections on teaching Hopi language and culture, and are perfect for schools, libraries, or to commemorate a visit to the Hopi reservation or the Southwest in general. Grade for both: an enthusiastic A+.

A WALK TO THE GREAT MYSTERY by Virginia Stroud. Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (212) 366-2000, (212) 366-2666 FAX. 32 pp., $14.99 cloth. 0-8037-1636-2

In this second book by the award-winning artist and writer, Dustin and Rosie pay a visit to their grandmother, a Cherokee medicine woman who looks at things in a special way. She takes the children into the woods to look for the Great Mystery. At first they are confused, but eventually they understand that it is the spirit of life all around them, even inside them. An enlightening story about respect and tradition, illustrated with sun-washed acrylics where almost everything is circular. Why, though, are their faces so white? Grade: B+.

For all ages:

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NATIVE AMERICA by Trudy Griffin-Pierce. Viking Children's Books, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (212) 366-2000, (212) 366-2666 FAX. Illustrated, index, maps, list of resources, further readings. 192 pp., $25.99 cloth. 0-670-85104-3

Indian tribes are scattered all across the United States and Canada, and each one, though they share many traits and customs, is distinct. Griffin-Pierce's new reference highlights these individual characteristics while providing a coherent overview of Indian life in North America. Divided into seven cultural and geographical sections, each containing a history, language map, descriptions of specific tribes, and several sidebars that focus on special celebrations, notable leaders, or a particular issue. Includes a section on Canadian Indians. Highly recommended for public and school libraries. Grade: A-.