CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 17. . . .January 8, 2010.
Long Powwow Nights.
David Bouchard & Pam Aleekuk. Paintings by Leonard Paul. Music by Buffie Sainte-Marie. Translation by Patsy Paul-Martin.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2009.
32 pp. Includes CD. Hardcover, $24.95.
Mother and child-Juvenile literature.
Indians of North America-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Gregory Bryan.
I remember you mother Ė still vibrant and young
Dancing beneath the warm prairie sun.
I now know those days were an endless desire
That burned deep within you like the flames of our fire.
Red Deer Pressís new picture book, Long Powwow Nights, is a celebration of powwows and their importance to First Nation people. In Long Powwow Nights, a child has been taught by his mother to respect and appreciate the powwow ceremony and First Nation culture. The narrator reflects upon his motherís love of the dance and his motherís life and teachings as she grows older and, eventually, dies.
Long Powwow Nights is a collaboration of many talented and creative people. The poetic text was written by Pam Aleekuk and the prolific and talented Mťtis writer, David Bouchard. The book includes dual English and Miíkmaq text. The Miíkmaq translation is by Patsy Paul-Martin while the stunning illustrations are by Leonard Paul. The book also contains a CD recording of the book read in English and the Miíkmaq language. This CD includes accompanying music by Buffy Sainte-Marie, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Honour from the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. The collaboration works very well, and, at less than $25, the book and CD represents good value. Red Deer Press has also released a French edition of the book, with French and Miíkmaq text.
Leonard Paulís wonderful artwork is the major strength of Long Powwow Nights. The magnificent paintings have a photographic realism that, given the subject matter, is beautiful and awe-inspiring. Paulís paintings of powwow dancers in full regalia are likely to draw the attention of the panel of judges who determine the Governor Generalís Literary Award for illustration of books for children. The paintings reflect the dancersí pride and capture the colour and energy of a powwow.
Bouchardís and Aleekukís text is nostalgic and respectful but demands maturity of the reader, and that means this book is not best suited to young readers. Although the promotional materials suggest the book is suitable for all ages, the text is not likely to appeal to many readers or listeners below grade five or six level. Given the dramatic beauty of the artwork, however, many young children will be content to turn the pages and focus exclusively on the dramatic paintings.
Long Powwow Nights is a stunning book that will especially appeal to First Nation People and to anyone who has enjoyed the opportunity to attend a powwow ceremony.
Gregory Bryan lives in Winnipeg, MB. He teaches childrenís literature at the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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