THE STORY OF CHAKAPAS: A CREE INDIAN LEGEND.
Edited and Illustrated by Annie Downes Catterson, Kapuskasing (Ont.). Penumbra Press, 1987. unpaged, paper. $7.95. ISBN 0-920806-91-0.
Volume 16 Number 4
Why does the small field mouse have grey fur on its underside? What is the figure-like shadow on the full moon? The answers according to Cree Indian mythology can be found in The Story of Chakapas. This excellent story was edited and Illustrated by Annie Downes Catterson; it was collected and transcribed by P.G. Downes, who collected many legends when he travelled among the Cree.
Chakapas is a mighty hunter who, after successfully trapping all living creatures, proves his prowess by snaring the moon. His success means the nights remain dark because the moon cannot rise to cast its pale light. Soon the people beg Chakapas to release the moon because they miss the benefit of its light, but the mighty hunter cannot free what he has trapped. He sends the animals to the moon one by one so that they can chew the cords that bind it, but the animals fall, too. They are driven away by the heat of the moon-all except one named Least Mouse.
Catterson's illustrations are very powerful black-and-white depictions of the story. The text is on the left side with a full-page visual rendition of the action on the facing page. This lay-out means that each bit of plot (in many cases, every sentence) is Illustrated. The visual impact is strong.
Children as young as five years enjoy this story for the story's sake, and it is a popular beginner-reader for grade 1 and 2 students. It has also proven useful as a resource for older students comparing legends from various cultures.
Patricia Fry, Toronto, Ont.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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