LITTLE WATER AND THE GIFT OF THE ANIMALS
Volume 21 Number 1
This re-creation of a Seneca legend is a welcome addition to any library. It is C.J. Taylor's third picture-book in which she explores a legend from a specific Native tribe and gives insight into a particular richness of Native experience.
In her first book (How Two-Feather Was Saved from Loneliness), Taylor describes through a legend about corn the respect the Abenaki tribe felt for the earth, a provider of food. Her second book, The Ghost and Lone Warrior, expressed the Arapaho tribe's respect for animals, particularly the buffalo, as a provider of food and clothing.
"Less known is that animals also restored humans to health, providing medicine for the body and strength for the spirit." This is the theme of Taylor's third book, Little Water and the Gift of the Animals, a Seneca legend.
In this story a "terrible sickness" has come over Little Water's village and everyone is too weak to harvest the com fields and other vegetables. Stone Owl, Little Water's grandfather and medicine man of the village, approaches his grandson to ask help. Among his people, Little Water was known to have a special gift. He could talk with the animals and he never tired of learning from them. Stone Owl knew that the animals could cure the sickness that had overcome his people, and he asked Little Water to go back to the forest and ask the animals for help.
Once the wolf, Little Water's special friend, understood the problem, he called all the animals together and told them that it was time to tell Little Water each of their "secret medicines." After learning the secrets that would save his people, Little Water returned to his village and shared his knowledge. Soon the village people were singing, dancing, and harvesting the crop and enjoying a harvest festival.
The illustrations painted by Taylor are a dramatic contribution that enhances the story. She clearly projects her own personal understanding of the legend into them. They are extremely colourful and are filled with fine detail. The last page of this book includes details on the background of the Little Water Society, which exists today in northwestern New York. This shows us the relevance of the legend to this day.
Kay Kerman is a Kindergarten and grade 1 teacher at Chelsea Elementary School in Chelsea, Quebec
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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