________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 17 . . . .April 13, 2007


Gray Wolf's Search. (First Nations).

Bruce Swanson. Illustrated by Gary Peterson.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2007.
24 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-9779183-1-7.

Subject Heading:
Indians of North America-Northwest Coast of North America-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4



Gray Wolf told the people about his conversations with the animals and about his vision.

After much time," he said, "I have found a very important person and gotten to know this person well. The very important person is you, and you, and you," he said, pointing all around the circle.

"Through all my travels," continued Gray Wolf, "I found that no one is more important than another. Each one of us is a very important person."


Second Story Press is excited to launch a new series—the "First Nations Series for Young Readers"—with the new picture book, Gray Wolf's Search. As a sign of things to come, Gray Wolf's Search suggests the series will be a worthwhile addition to school and family libraries across the country.

internal art     Bruce Swanson's writing has a sweet simplicity perfectly suited to the story being told. Gray Wolf's Search is a tale of investigation and self-discovery. Gray Wolf's uncle, the shaman, Raven's Head, sets Gray Wolf on the search for "a very important person." Gray Wolf's journey of exploration takes him to elicit the assistance of bears, killer whales, a Bald Eagle, a beaver family, and two wolves. Despite their best intentions, these animals are able to provide only limited assistance until Gray Wolf ventures into a marsh to give deeper consideration to the things he has been told.

      Gary Peterson's colourful illustrations were created using the quick drying oil paint called alkyd. Thick oil paintings take a long time to dry. Adding alkyd resin to oil paintings speeds up the drying process considerably.

      Peterson's mixture of realistic and totemic depictions of animals is clever and alluring and might perhaps be suggestive of the timelessness of this tale. For me, this skillful mixture is also suggestive of the fact that the message of the story is of value and importance across cultures.

      Swanson and Peterson's story tells an important tale about valuing one another and above valuing oneself. As such, the appeal of the book is not limited to children of First Nation descent. Rather, the message contained herein is for one and all.


Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He teaches children's literature and literacy education courses.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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