Morning on the Lake.
Jan Bourdeau Waboose. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch.
Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.
Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.
Like Jan Bourdeau Waboose's first picture book, Where Only the Elders Go - Moon Lake Loon Lake, published in 1994, "Morning on the Lake" reflects the author's deep respect and love for her natural surroundings and for her people's traditions. The author is a Nishinawbe Ojibway whose writing aims to convey the Native way of life. "What I would like people to see is that Indian people are proud, family-oriented people respectful of all and very, very spiritual." In Morning on the Lake, a series of three linked stories, an Ojibway grandfather, Mishomis, and his young grandson, Noshen, set out in a birchbark canoe one misty morning. Together in the early morning stillness, they watch a pair of loons and are rewarded by seeing the male loon perform his territorial dance. In the second story, "Noon", the boy and his grandfather climb a rocky cliff and are visited by an eagle whose presence, Mishomis explains, "... is a sign of honour and wisdom. As the Great Eagle is a proud protector of our people, I am a proud Mishomis of my Noshen." The final story, entitled "Night", takes place deep in the woods where the boy and his grandfather venture so that Noshen may see the night animals. Here the pair encounter a pack of timber wolves, but Mishomis' wisdom and courage are transmitted to Noshen, and he is able to overcome his fear and stand his ground in the yellow-eyed gaze of the leader. Accomplished illustrator Karen Reczuch, whose previous books include The Dust Bowl, winner of the 1997 IODE Book Award, and Just Like New, winner of the 1996 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, has once again created, with meticulous attention to detail, breathtakingly realistic illustrations. Her knowledge and love of the northern bush country and her respect for its wild inhabitants are evident in each of her watercolour illustrations.
Waboose has chosen to write her story in the first person and in the present tense, perhaps to achieve a greater sense of immediacy and realism. Unfortunately the author's descriptive style and urge to convey her message sometimes overcome the young narrator's voice. In consequence, Waboose's text does not live up to the realism of Reczuch's illustrations. Given the length of the book, reading all three stories to a young listener at one sitting might prove daunting. The reader would be advised to treat each of the three parts of this narrative as a separate read-along and to enjoy the gentle pace and stunning illustrations in an unhurried way.
Recommended with reservations.
Valerie Nielsen is teacher-librarian at Bairdmore Elementary School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - OCTOBER 17, 1997.
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