CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013
Raven Brings the Light is a First Nations origin story from the West Coast featuring a boy named Weget who, possessing special gifts, is highly revered by his people. After his birth, his rapid growth alarms his parents but intrigues the Chiefs who bring a treasure chest called a guloonich when meeting him for the first time. Inside the box is a raven skin that, when worn by Weget, will give him special powers, including flight. The Chiefs provide direction and advice to Weget’s parents on how Weget should use the items stowed in his treasure chest; for instance, when Weget flies over the ocean wearing his raven skin, dropping rocks into the water will create islands upon which he can rest. This is only one of many events that happens during Weget’s quest to bring light to his people. While he does succeed in his quest, there are challenges along the way that he must surmount, relying on the guloonich and his mental prowess, daring, and a bit of trickery. This is, essentially, a traditional tale describing the origins of the Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), how salmon came to populate the many streams of mainland British Columbia, and how plants provided sustenance for the West Coast indigenous people.
Written in elegant prose, Raven Brings the Light is well-paced, concise, and engaging. It is a story that begs to be part of story time or some other opportunity for an oral reading. According to the publisher, the tale is over 3000 years old, although this particular, newer version is credited to Chester Bolton, Chief of the Ravens (of Kitkatla). The text is complemented by stunning visuals, each page being a work of art. Colourful nature scenes form the predominant images in the book, although many are also portrayed in the characteristic Northwest Coast art style, occasionally superimposed on the nature scenes. This book is a must-have for any library with a children’s collection.
Roxy Garstad is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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