________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 4 . . . . October 16, 1998

cover The Songs My Paddle Sings.

James Riordan. Illustrated by Michael Foreman.
London, UK: Pavilion Books [Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books], 1997.
128 pp., paper, $19.95.
ISBN 1-86205-076-7.

Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Folklore.
Tales-North America.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


One night in this long-ago time, the darkness was very black and snow began to fall. It fell throughout the long, black night. The night seemed endless. The snow became deeper and deeper, covering plants and bushes; the animals had difficulty finding f ood, and many died.

At last their chief called a council.

"Let us send messengers to the Sky World" the council decided. "They will find out what is causing this long night and deep snow."

So they sent as messengers one member of each family of animal, bird and fish that lived upon the shores of the Great Slave Lake. Those that could not fly were carried on the backs of those who could. So all entered through the trapdoor that led to the Sky World.

image The rich heritage of Native American storytelling is highlighted in this wonderful collection of 20 myths and legends. Stories of creation, great warriors, medicine men, animals and spirits offer readers a glimpse into a time long ago when all of the peo ple and animals on earth lived together in harmony. A variety of first nations are represented in the collection - Blackfoot, Pueblo, Ojibway, Chippewa, Inuit and more - ranging from all parts of North America. Twelve of the stories are Canadian in origi n.

      Each tale is told using vivid imagery and poetic language. The words flow with a gentle rhythm - one can almost hear the voices of the tribal elders as they share their stories around a glowing campfire with the stars overhead. With the exception of a f ew, the legends are written in language that is easy for children to understand. "The Apache Cinderella" offers a more spiritual slant on the typical Cinderella story; several other titles will be useful to teachers whose classes study the Canadian north . Every story is prefaced with a brief paragraph describing the group of people and the geographical area from which it originates. A table of contents, glossary and a list of sources are included.

      Foreman has done a superb job of tying the collection together with his ethereal watercolour illustrations. Rich tones of blue, green, purple and russet, with just enough detail to capture the imagination, add greatly to the enjoyment of the text.

      There is much to learn from this book, not only about Native American culture, but also about the relationship between man and nature and the stewardship of the earth.

Highly recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School, East St. Paul, Manitoba.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364