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Enduring Wisdom: Sayings from American Indians

Enduring Wisdom: Sayings from American Indians

by Synthia Saint James (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Organized into five sections, Enduring Wisdom: Sayings from Native Americans, ed. by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illus. by Synthia Saint James, presents quotes from various North American tribes. A Sioux Medicine Man's poem (1972) describes how a meaty pot of soup represents the essential elements of life; a 1940 Cree hunter explains why he does not kill "for killing's sake"; a Nachez mother in 1729 instructs her son, a chief. A foreword by the editor explains that, since Native Americans had no written language "until long after white people were well established in America," these quotes were spoken in prayer, song or conversation, and in this way passed down through the generations. Abstract patterns illustrate the soup poem; bold geometric shapes represent the hunter, while tiny brushstrokes indicate feathers on his bow and leaves on the trees. A handsome, inspiring volume. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
A vibrant collection of Native American sayings, the book will appeal to young readers because of the bright and contrasting colors in the folk-art. Unfortunately, most of the poignancy and perception of the quotations will be lost on immature readers. The Native American author amassed wise maxims from an array of sources, including more than a dozen different tribes across several centuries of both oral and written tradition. As with many books of wisdom, the feeling of the book is poetic and thoughtful. With an adage or two per page, the author gives credit to the original speaker and, in most cases, indicates the year the words were recorded. The book presents an excellent exposure to the insight of the earliest American cultures, and manages to relay a deep sadness for the peace and oneness with nature that has been left behind by the bustle of contemporary society. 2003, Holiday House, Ages 5 to 8.
—Deborah Zink
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-These documented expressions "spoken in prayer, in song, in orations, or in conversations" include the ancient wisdom and present-day counsel of a number of tribes. Boldly hued, plainly defined illustrations complement the spare, reflective language. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sneve, whose Dancing Tepees (1989) has reached the status of a classic, has here selected 34 wise quotations from various Native-American sources. Although a majority of the selections are from the oral tradition or from historical sources, Sneve does include quotes from contemporary ones, including Wilma Mankiller (1993), a Hopi man remembering his youth (1940), and a Laguna Pueblo author (1996). The quotes range from the profound to the reflective and promise to engage the reader, but potential energy seems to be neutralized by the boldly colored, but flat, stylized illustrations--illustrations devoid of any expression. Saint James’s (To Dinner, for Dinner, 2000, etc.) illustrations utilize strong, simple shapes and faceless figures. Each piece is an acceptable piece of art but, as a group, the illustrations do little to complement or enhance the emotions, meaning, and vitality that are inherent in the words presented. The satisfying text is not quite enough to redeem the overall package. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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