CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005
In rhyming couplets, Obed tells the ballad-like tale of Borrowed Black, an imaginary creature who lives on the coast of Labrador. Borrowed Black, a huge being made of parts borrowed from other creatures, has bear paws, seaweed hair, seashell ears, wolf eyes, a gull nose, seal flipper feet, and a wind heart. The borrowed parts that form the Frankenstein-like creature are held together by wind. One night, greedy Borrowed Black borrows the silver moon, and when it breaks, he buries the "billion and four" pieces in the sea and the land is cloaked in darkness. Seventeen seasons pass, but one night an eclectic crew of personified characters, who sail a boat built in the back of whale, finds Borrowed Black's shack. They steal Borrowed Black's sack of wind and negotiate a trade the moon pieces for the sack of wind. However, Borrowed Black's demise is inevitable when the wind, "thoughtful of night and its kin," remains with the moon to hold the pieces together. As night turns to day, Borrowed Black is no more as his borrowed pieces blow away.
The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Borrowed Black: A Labrador Fantasy is beautifully illustrated with subdued watercolour hues of blue, gray and brown highlighted with white. Borrowed Black is an engaging folk tale that has been translated into seven languages and printed in eleven countries. A glossary explaining the unusual terms in the verse would have helpful to readers.
Sylvia Pantaleo is a Language Arts professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC.
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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.