From the Publisher
"McCurdy’s signature scratchboard illustrations take on a hieratic power as he recounts a way of pacing the year far different from what’s familiar. . . . His language is simple, direct, and clear, and reads aloud well. Satisfying in many ways." Kirkus Reviews (6/15/00) Kirkus Reviews
"This handsome book offers a realistic glimpse of everyday life before the arrival of white settlers." Publishers Weekly 9/25/00 Publishers Weekly
"Handsome scratchboard art frequently illustrates items mentioned in the narrative and portrays the Algonquians with great dignity." Booklist (11/1/00) Booklist, ALA
"An excellent, full-page scratchboard illustration accompanies the description of each month. . . this is a beautiful book." SLJ, 12/00 School Library Journal
"Portrays the ALgonquins with great dignity." Booklist 11/01/00 Booklist, ALA
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McCurdy's finely wrought scratchboard illustrations are the backbone of this lovely picture book, which tracks the central activities of the Northeastern Algonquians month by month. He traces the cycle of the year for the confederation of tribes (from Micmac to Abenaki) that constitute the Algonquian people, from January's "Hard Times Moon," when families hunker down in dome-shaped wigwams to survive the harsh weather; through March's "Sap Moon," when maple syrup is harvested; June's "Strawberry Moon," when old women and children "sit on the warm ground and pluck the delicate fruit with great care"; and November's "Beaver Moon," when traps set for the animals yield meat and warm clothing. The clean, elegant lines of McCurdy's informative prose echo the bold cross-hatching and linear detail of his artwork; he frames resonant black-and-white vignettes, united by a recurring lunar motif, with a brick red border. This handsome book offers a realistic glimpse of everyday life before the arrival of white settlers. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Each month of the year, from January to December, is given a page with its Northern Algonquian name for its full moon. The information includes a description of what that month was like for the people, plus something about the way they lived. The typical activities of the men, women and children are included. For example, under the Green Corn Moon of August, the corn is picked. Children make cornhusk dolls and play games; women weave baskets and prepare deerskins for winter clothing. The introduction adds more information about the various groups of Algonquians living in Northeast United States and Canada, their similarities and differences. The richly textured black scratchboard illustrations, one full page for each month, are replete with the visual details mentioned in the text, and are set in complex scenes, esthetically composed with sky and landscape. A map is included. 2000, Houghton Mifflin Company,
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-In his introduction, McCurdy clearly states that his purpose is to describe a "year as it would have been lived before the arrival of white settlers-[concentrating on] Algonquian tribes found in the northeast of what is now Canada and the United States." The information is consistent with other books on these peoples, presenting typical recurring activities and the ongoing struggle for survival. An excellent, full-page scratchboard illustration accompanies the description of each month. Unfortunately, the use of present tense throughout the narrative dilutes the historical focus and becomes confusing when phrases like "the game we now call lacrosse" or "what will someday be called New Brunswick" accompany descriptions of events and activities. Similarly, McCurdy's map of the tribes provides only subtle outlines of the current northeastern states, but the presence of contemporary geographic names in the text suggests that the pre-contact Algonquians used terms like "New England" and "Massachusetts." Despite its shortcomings, this is a beautiful book that would be best used in a classroom or with adult intervention.-Sean George, St. Charles Parish Library, Luling, LA MCGILL, Alice, col. In the Hollow of Your Hand: Slave Lullabies. illus. by Michael Cummings. unpaged. with CD. score. CIP. Houghton. 2000. Tr $18. ISBN 0-395-85755-4. LC 97-20269. PreS-Gr 5-This collection includes songs of hope as well as haunting refrains of people being sold. From the reassuring "Great Big Dog" to the nonsense of "Rock de Cradle, Joe," the 13 selections reflect some aspect of a life lived under slavery. The words to each lullaby (and the explanation of its origin) are accompanied by vibrant mixed-media collage illustrations. Music appears in the back of the book. Although the accompanying CD does not follow the text exactly, the clear tones and the soft melodies provided by guitar, fiddle, banjo, and percussion bring much listening pleasure. Sing these songs with younger children or explore them more deeply with an older crowd. Both will result in a rewarding experience.-Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
In precolonial America the tribes of the
Northeast described their calendar by naming the full moons. Handsome
full-page scratchboard illustrations, always incorporating the full moon,
show specific activities described by the text. Thus, the Hard Times and
Snow Blinder moons of January and February are followed by the Sap,
Spearfish and Planting moons. Careful scholarship is lightly incorporated
into an engrossing book.
McCurdy's (Iron Horses, 1999, etc.) signature scratchboard illustrations take on a hieratic power as he recounts a way of pacing the year far different from what's familiar. He's recreating the marking of time of the Algonquian tribes of northeast Canada and the United States before the coming of white settlers. To do so he places each full-page illustration facing a page of text describing the activities of the full moon: January is Hard Times Moon; February is Snow Blinder Moon, and so on. Both text and images are full of telling detail: for the Sap Moon in March, he describes the gathering and boiling down of maple sap into syrup, and illustrates the carefully folded birchbark buckets used to gather the sap. June is the Strawberry Moon, and the much-loved fruit is gathered both wild and cultivated. At the Ripening Moon in July, he describes the hard work of tending crops, and how shellfish are harvestedlobsters are only used as bait! By the November Beaver Moon, most families have left their summer wigwams to move deeper into the forest, or into inland valleys, seeking some protection from winter's harshness. His language is simple, direct, and clear, and reads aloud well. Satisfying in many ways. (Introduction, bibliography.) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)