CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013
Caribou Song = AteekOonagamoon.
Tomson Highway. Illustrated by John Rombough.
Markham, ON: Fifth House, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Cree Indians-Juvenile fiction.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Rachel Yaroshuk.
Joe stood in the middle of the plunging caribou. Through the tangle of their rushing legs and antlers, he could just see Cody, small as a doll, sitting on the caribou moss.
Joe took one step, then another, as if swimming through the snorting, steaming bodies, until he reached his brother.
Tomson Highway’s beloved tale, Caribou Song, has been reprinted with vivid artwork by John Rombough.
Set in Northern Manitoba, Caribou Song shares the magical world of two brothers, Joe and Cody. The boys live with their parents, following the caribou. The boys sing, dance, and play the accordion together to entice the caribou to show themselves.
One day the boys are singing and dancing in a field when a strong rumbling noise envelopes them, and the boys find themselves surrounded by a herd of stampeding caribou! The caribou engulf the boys like a river. Rather than trembling with fear, the boys embrace the spirit of the caribou. As the dust settles and the caribou stampede trickles off, the boys’ parents are amazed to find Joe and Cody singing and laughing in delight at the excitement of the day.
Tomson Highway’s mastery creates an exciting, action-packed plot. Elements of suspense simultaneously entertain beauty, magic, and whimsy. Highway artfully crafts his scenes with the vivid river imagery capturing the full drama of the caribou’s presence - the sound of their hooves beating on the earth like the pounding of drums. Caribou Song is an experience for the senses.
John Rombough’s illustrations complement Highway’s text. A textured brush strokes vibrant colors across the sky, breathing life into the vast expanse of the wilderness. Intricate acrylic silhouettes frame the page and juxtapose the jewel-toned images that create the landscape and characters. The pages mirror the vibrant youthful energy and excitement of the characters and story.
While the last publication of this book was also created with a dual language component, this version features an alternate dialect of Cree. This new publication also features fresh illustrations that offer a unique perspective of the story. Textual elements are well balanced with visual components, and language changes are easily identified with colourful graphic components.
Caribou Song is a beautiful marriage of story and illustration.
Rachel Yaroshuk is an Auxiliary Librarian for the North Vancouver District Public Library.
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