CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007
The Gathering Tree.
Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden. Illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund.
Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 2005/6.
48 pp., pbk. & cl., $15.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 978-1-894778-42-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-894778-28-2 (cl.).
HIV infections-Juvenile fiction.
AIDS (Disease)-Juvenile fiction.
Indians of North America-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Gail de Vos.
Tyler stood alone at the gathering tree. Its branches towered over him. The old tree had withstood many storms and gale force winds. Strips of colored cloth were tied around its trunk to honor it.
As he stood beneath the tree, Tyler could feel its power. The old tree's strength surged though his body. Suddenly he knew it was time. Tyler set out alone, running along the trail. "I'll be the first to welcome Robert," he said to himself.
Award-winning author Larry Loyie, along with his co-author Constance Brissenden, have created a gently didactic story to inform young readers about HIV and AIDS.
Robert, Tyler's favourite cousin, is coming back from the city to talk to the community about what has happened to him. Tyler is confused as Robert's illness is not evident by his appearance; however, Tyler's friend is not allowed by her family to visit while Robert is there. Robert does not seem all that different from the young man who Tyler remembers, but Robert's introspection and gentle humour reminds Tyler that changes have definitely occurred.
Robert's story is augmented with traditional lore and culture. Tyler catches his first salmon, a very important event and, as well, learns about the importance of community and family, in sickness and health.
Colourful and realistic illustrations by Heather Holmlund set the story directly in a First Nation's community on British Columbia's coastline, but the story could take place anywhere, in any community.
The book, initiated by British Columbia's Chee Mamuk, Aboriginal HIV/STI education program of the Division of STD/AIDS control, includes several pages of questions and answers about HIV and contact information. It also includes an impressive number of HIV experts who were part of this book.
While I applaud the purpose and the result of the collaboration in creating this picture book, it unfortunately does not flow in the same manner as Loyie's award-winning first book, As Long as the Rivers Flow. Another small niggling irritation is the fact that the spelling is not Canadian but has been Americanized.
Nonetheless, The Gathering Tree is recommended as an informational source on HIV and AIDS.
Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of six books on storytelling and folklore.
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