From the Publisher
Winner of the First Nation Communities Read, 2007
Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration, 2006
An OLA Best Bets of 2007: Top 10 Picture Book
Short-listed for the Anskohk Aboriginal Children's Book of the Year Award, 2007
Short-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, 2007
another surefire prize contender
Ancient Thunder's concise text effectively sets up the book's clever, creative images." Quill and Quire, Starred Review
"In both their content and feel, the compositions...evoke a sense of wonder
aspiring artists and those interested in native cultures - may well find much to linger over." Publisher's Weekly
striking and expressive
Yerxa's poetic lyrical text is sparse and thoughtful
Highly Recommended." CM Magazine
"In both their content and feel, the compositions . . . evoke a sense of wonder . . . aspiring artists and those interested in native cultures . . . may well find much to linger over."
— Publishers Weekly
Yerxa (Last Leaf, First Snowflake to Fall), a Canadian of Ojibway ancestry, celebrates the relationship between horses and the native people of the Great Plains in a series of three-mystically themed montages. At the center of each picture is a paper fringed shirt, crafted from handmade paper and modeled on those worn by the First Peoples; the shirt serves as both backdrop and landscape for Yerxa's lean, schematic portraits of horses, usually depicted in groups at full gallop. Although there is some sense of time passing (the book begins "at the rise of the Strawberry Moon" and ends at daybreak), there is no attempt to tell a linear story. In both their content and feel, the compositions feel more akin to cave paintings (the horses especially so), and evoke a sense of wonder. The text, which conspicuously avoids the word "horse," echoes this mood with its series of short, chant-like phrases: "Born... to run/ with the first/ sparkles of/ new daylight/ Over a sea of grass/ Chasing the buffalo/ And the antelope, too/ Soaring on eagles' wings." Although each individual spread makes a strong impression, the overall visual rhythm begins to feel rather monotonous. Younger readers will likely tune out quickly, but older readers-especially aspiring artists and those interested in native cultures-may well find much to linger over. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
In just a few poetic words per page, Yerxa celebrates the wild horses that run "with the first sparkles of new daylight/ Over a sea of grass..." They sleep in the moonlight, then wake to run again, "Beating the earth drum/ Carrying man/ On hooves of ancient thunder." The artist uses specially treated handmade paper to form fringed and decorated shirt shapes which are painted with images of running horses and other animals, as well as cut-out shapes and designs. His single and double pages pulsate with motion overridden with mysticism. The backgrounds are solid colors, the better to show off the running horses and the white fringes rustling in the winds. In a note, the author/artist describes the background of his inspiration, as well as the process of illustration. The illustrations echo some of those about Native American clothing and dwellings, particularly the horses galloping across the endpapers.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Dazzling artistry and a spare but poetically perceptive text combine to create a unique vision of the mystical allure of horses. Illustrations resembling traditional clothing of the Native peoples of the Great Plains are the backdrop for depicting the multicolored horses galloping across the grasslands, sometimes alone, sometimes in herds, "carrying man," and "chasing the buffalo." The stylized animals appear on different areas of the fringed dresses and shirts. The colors capture the beauty of the deep blue, starry, and moonlit nights and sky-blue days on the vast land. The horses freely move across the pages as if there were no boundaries. The gouache-and-watercolor spreads and full-page illustrations have a dynamic quality because the background shapes constantly change in size, angle, and detail, with feathers subtly integrated throughout. This free-verse celebration of wild horses will appeal to those who want to feast their eyes on imaginative and vibrant art.-Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The love of wild horses, their mythic qualities and their significance for the native people of the Great Plains resonates in this unusual and gorgeously illustrated work. The watercolor and gouache on "watercolor paper treated to give it the appearance of leather," depicts clothing reminiscent of the traditional garb of the Plains Indians. The very brief text appears to be addressed to the horses: "At the rise of the strawberry moon / To hooves of ancient thunder / In the tall grass, born / To run with the first sparkles of new daylight. . . . " There is no plot. The text concludes, "Beating the earth drum / Carrying man / On hooves of ancient thunder." Dazzling multi-colored horses in the flat style of ledger books, leap and fly both on and behind the fringed leather clothing, and occasionally prance into the white space beyond the pictures' edges. Although the words are simple, the syntax is difficult. The glorious art, however, will pull readers in and hold them. (Picture book. 4-7)