Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale

by Greg Rodgers, Leslie Stall Widener
     
 

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"Chukfi is a trickster worthy of the name, and this fresh, funny tale makes an excellent addition to the genre." (starred reivew, Kirkus Reviews)

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014

Silly kids, tricks are for rabbits! Chukfi Rabbit, that is. The laziest—and hungriest—trickster rabbit there is!

Deep in Choctaw Country,

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Overview

"Chukfi is a trickster worthy of the name, and this fresh, funny tale makes an excellent addition to the genre." (starred reivew, Kirkus Reviews)

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014

Silly kids, tricks are for rabbits! Chukfi Rabbit, that is. The laziest—and hungriest—trickster rabbit there is!

Deep in Choctaw Country, Chukfi Rabbit is always figuring out some way to avoid work at all costs. When Bear, Turtle, Fox, and Beaver agree on an everybody-work-together day to build Ms. Possum a new house, Chukfi Rabbit says he's too busy to help. Until he hears there will be a feast to eat after the work is done: cornbread biscuits, grape dumplings, tanchi labona (a delicious Choctaw corn stew), and best of all, fresh, homemade butter! So while everyone else helps build the house, Chukfi helps himself to all that yummy butter! The furry fiend! But this greedy trickster will soon learn that being this lazy is hard work! A classic trickster tale in the Choctaw tradition.

Greg Rodgers is a storyteller and writer. He is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and tells stories in schools, libraries, festivals, and tribal events throughout the country. He is currently completing a PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Leslie Stall Widener lives in north Texas in a one-hundred-year old farmhouse with her husband, also an illustrator. When she was a child, she explored every inch of her grandparents' Oklahoma farm, an allotment her grandmother received for her Choctaw ancestry. Leslie's latest book, a collaboration with her sister, is an illustrated history of fashion.

Silly kids, tricks are for rabbits! Chukfi Rabbit, that is. The laziest—and hungriest—trickster rabbit there is!

Deep in Choctaw Country, Chukfi Rabbit is always figuring out some way to avoid work at all costs. When Bear, Turtle, Fox, and Beaver agree on an everybody-work-together day to build Ms. Possum a new house, Chukfi Rabbit says he's too busy to help. Until he hears there will be a feast to eat after the work is done: cornbread biscuits, grape dumplings, tanchi labona (a delicious Choctaw corn stew), and best of all, fresh, homemade butter! So while everyone else helps build the house, Chukfi helps himself to all that yummy butter! The furry fiend! But this greedy trickster will soon learn that being this lazy is hard work! A classic trickster tale in the Choctaw tradition.

Greg Rodgers is a storyteller and writer. He is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and tells stories in schools, libraries, festivals, and tribal events throughout the country. He is currently completing a PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Leslie Stall Widener lives in north Texas in a one-hundred-year old farmhouse with her husband, also an illustrator. When she was a child, she explored every inch of her grandparents' Oklahoma farm, an allotment her grandmother received for her Choctaw ancestry. Leslie's latest book, a collaboration with her sister, is an illustrated history of fashion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/28/2014
Rodgers introduces readers to a handful of Choctaw animal names in this trickster story, which sees Chufki Rabbit faking an illness while other animals help build a house for Ms. Shukata Possum; Chufki then eats all the homemade butter that’s been prepared for the reward feast. There’s a lot of text on each page, but the folksy cadence and easygoing humor of Rodgers’s narration make the story fly by. Dressed in ballcaps, sashes, and aprons, Widener’s animal cast is a friendly bunch—even Chufki looks like a softie, despite his selfishness (which comes back to bite him, of course). Ages 5–10. (July)
From the Publisher

***STARRED REVIEW*** "Chukfi is a trickster worthy of the name, and this fresh, funny tale makes an excellent addition to the genre … Choctaw storyteller Rodgers invests the tale, found in the archives of the Oklahoma History Center, with plenty of humor and oral flair … Both text and illustrations positively exude good humor."Kirkus Reviews

"The folksy cadence and easygoing humor of Rodgers’s narration make the story fly by. Dressed in ballcaps, sashes, and aprons, Widener’s animal cast is a friendly bunch."Publishers Weekly

"The Choctaws around home are singing Greg Rodgers’ praises for bringing us another story about Chukfi, our beloved trickster rabbit. A marvelous read for children of all ages—adults too!"—LeAnne Howe, Choctaw author and poet

"When this Chukfi rabbit story shuffled through time and forgetfulness to find the ideal storyteller, it came to the right person. Greg Rodgers is one of the best young storytellers of his generation. Each of the animal characters charms thanks to Rodgers and to Leslie Stall Widener who provided the dynamic illustrations. This book belongs in every child’s library and the libraries of some of us older story-lovers."—Joy Harjo, author of The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming

"I smiled as I read Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache … The story is delightful to read, and the illustrations by Leslie Stall Widener are terrific."—Debbie Reese for American Indian in Children's Literature

"Chukfi Rabbit is the perfect tale to inspire the virtues, and teach the satisfactions, of community and teamwork in your little ones." Texas Book Lover

"A charming Choctaw trickster tale that delivers a life lesson with a large helping of humor." Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Not only is it a delightful, humorous trickster teaching tale for children, it is a living oral expression from an ancient tradition, with Native inflections, traditional Choctaw animal character names, and a wonderful flavor of the Choctaw world view essence.” The Midwest Book Review

"Author Greg Rodgers discovered this tale while looking for his own ancestral information in the Oral History Archives in Oklahoma and revived the story for all to enjoy today. Illustrator, Leslie Stall Widener, also has an emotional connection as when she was young girl, she explored her grandmother’s allotted land due to her Choctaw ancestry. Enjoy an old story that doesn’t get old … " —Angela Henderson for Kidsbook Friends

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-05-04
Like tricksters in traditions everywhere, "Chukfi Rabbit is lay-zeeee."In a time long ago, the narrator tells readers in an assured voice, Ms. Shukata Possum organizes "an everybody-work-together day to build her" a new house. Chukfi pleads prior commitments—until he hears that "fresh homemade butter" will be served with dinner. Well, that rotten rabbit shows up but disappears as soon as he can, going down to the spring where Ms. Possum is keeping the butter cool and eating it all up while feigning illness. Greedy Chukfi! When the workday is finished, he must pretend a great appetite, "even though his belly [is] great-big stuffed." A giant, buttery belch betrays him, of course. Choctaw storyteller Rodgers invests the tale, found in the archives of the Oklahoma History Center, with plenty of humor and oral flair. From the spring, Chukfi hears the "saw-saw-sawing and the ham-ham-hammering"; as "they didn't really have hammers back in those days, [the turtle] kindly agree[s]" to substitute. Choctaw illustrator Widener dresses her animal characters in a mélange of traditional and contemporary attire; Chula Fox and Luksi Turtle sport black, brimmed hats and tasseled belts, while Kinta Beaver wears a denim work shirt and a baseball cap. Both text and illustrations positively exude good humor.Chukfi is a trickster worthy of the name, and this fresh, funny tale makes an excellent addition to the genre. (author's notes) (Picture book. 5-8)
Children's Literature - Lisa Czirr
Tricksters are well-known figures in folklore, a role that Chukfi Rabbit plays in this retelling of a Choctaw story. A note at the beginning informs readers about the Choctaw origins of the story and provides background about the main characters’ names. As the story begins, Ms. Shukata Possum is getting together her other animal friends to help build her house. The lazy Chukfi makes excuses to avoid helping, but is lured anyway by the promise of food. Of course, the following day, Chukfi does not show up on time. Instead, he fakes sick and sneaks off to eat the delicious butter that Ms. Possum has made for the group. Later, Chukfi attempts to frame Nita Bear as the butter-eating culprit…but his plan backfires in an amusing way. It is not clear whether Chukfi will reform his ways afterward, but he definitely has to deal with the consequences of his actions. In the end, the real enjoyment for the other animals is not in the food, but in being able to help one of their friends. These animal characters are all very engaging to watch on the page, dressed in colorful clothing, with lively expressions and body language. The text of the story lends itself very well to reading aloud, with emphasis such as bolded words or Chukfi being described as “lay-zeeee.” A note at the end explains how the author came across the story, and about the modern use of Choctaw language. This book would be a fun addition to any storytelling or Native American-themed curriculum. Reviewer: Lisa Czirr; Ages 5 to 9.
School Library Journal
07/01/2014
K-Gr 2—Choctaw storyteller Rodgers recounts a proverbial Native American trickster tale. Lazy Chukfi Rabbit's neighbor, Ms. Shukata Possum, needs a new house. She promises a delicious dinner including a tub of the best butter ever to everyone who will join the construction team. All the animals, except Chukfi, work together to help Shukata. While they sweep, hammer, and saw, he pretends illness, steals the butter, and eats it all. Just as the sun sets, Chukfi returns to the work site, ready to pitch in. Of course, the others have already completed the job. Nevertheless, Shukata generously invites Chukfi to share the meal. When the others discover the empty butter tub, Chukfi deflects the blame onto poor Nita Bear, but they soon figure out that he is the true culprit. As punishment for his duplicity, the rabbit suffers from "one really, really big, bad bellyache," but has Chukfi learned his lesson? Despite the situation with Chukfi, Ms. Shukata Possum and her friends go home happy because they know that "helping others is always more joyful than even the best butter ever." The narrative is enhanced by a sprinkling of Choctaw vocabulary and details of Native American culture, as well as Widener's watercolor and pencil illustrations. She portrays the anthropomorphic animals dressed in shirts, hats, or aprons, working together in a springtime landscape of soft greens and blues. The large, plush characters dominate each spread. Pair this story with Helen Ketteman's Armadilly Chili (Albert Whitman, 2004) for a trickster storytime.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935955269
Publisher:
Cinco Puntos Press
Publication date:
06/24/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,251,172
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

Meet the Author


Greg Rodgers: Greg Rodgers is a storyteller and writer. He is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and often tells traditional and contemporary Choctaw stories at schools, libraries, festivals, and tribal events throughout the country. He is currently completing a Ph.d at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

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