________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

cover The Story of the Rabbit Dance.

Jeanne Pelletier. Illustrated by J.D. Panas. Translated by Rita Flamand.
Saskatoon, SK: The Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2007.
32 pp. & CD, pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-0-920915-77-6.

Subject Headings:
Métis-Juvenile fiction.
Dance-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**½ /4


As he reached a clearing, he stopped very quickly. He moved toward the trees. There he stood and watched in surprise.

He saw dogs of all sizes standing in a straight line. On the other side was a row of rabbits of all colours.

Some of the dogs and rabbits were watching the people in the house dancing “la danse du crochet.”

The Story of the Rabbit Dance is a picture book about the origin of the Métis dance known as the rabbit dance. In the book, Jeanne Pelletier tells about a Michif hunter by the name of Jacques. One night when returning from checking his traps, Jacques sees dogs and rabbits dancing together. Jacques then joins a Métis dance gathering and teaches his companions the new rabbit dance.

internal art

    The text for the story is presented in both English and Michif-Cree, with the Michif-Cree translation provided by Rita Flamand. The book features an accompanying CD recording of the story in both languages. The CD also contains three fiddle music recordings.

    J. D. Panas illustrates The Story of the Rabbit Dance. The illustrations appear to have been rendered in watercolour paints and coloured markers. Although there is a simplicity to the artwork that some will find endearing, the illustrations lack much of the attention-grabbing appeal of the extreme quality artwork that appears in many of today’s picture books for children. The illustrations are generally colourful; however, as with many watercolour paintings, they have a “washed-out,” muted appearance that does not catch the eye.

     The book ends with an unnecessary moral to the story. Indeed, the moral is not only unnecessary, but I think it is also debateable. Certainly, the moral that is provided is not what I would have identified as the story’s moral.

     Despite some limitations, the text, the illustrations, and the accompanying CD all contain some charm, and this book will appeal to some readers. I recommend this book to those with an interest in Métis culture and dance; however, I suspect the appeal of the book is generally limited.

Recommended with reservations.

Gregory Bryan lives in Winnipeg, MB where he teaches children’s literature and literacy courses at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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