The Bear-Walker and Other Stories.
Basil H. Johnston. Illustrated by David A. Johnson.
Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Nanabush immediately knew that he was being deceived by the old woman, so he spoke to her sharply: "If that's the way you want it, okay with me. When I arrived I was very hungry. I asked you to feed me, but you hid those loaves of bread because you are stingy. Fine. From now on you will be a woodpecker. You will have a hard time getting food too, living as you will from a tree."-- from "The Woodpecker"
It is said that in that instant the old woman became a woodpecker.
The Bear-Walker and Other Stories is a collection of nine stories known to members of the Ojibway people, who call themselves the Anishinaubaek. The book is a beautiful publication, elegantly illustrated with line drawings and evocative full-page coloured paintings by David A. Johnson. The artist incorporates masterful line drawings superimposed on backgrounds of the sky, mountains, or water. Often, creatures of the forest, birds, or fish are added to graphically enliven the story, and these may be literal representations or (in the case of the lynx) show a demon-like feline against a background of storm and lightning. The fine paper, gorgeous book jacket in mauve with an inset from the first story, as well as the generous margins and Johnson's flowing black-and-white illustrations should give the book wide appeal.
Adele Case is a high-school teacher who lives in West Vancouver.
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