Ladder to the Sky: How the Gift of Healing Came to the Ojibway Nation

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Unlike the biblical version of man's fall from grace, this legend of the Ojibway tribe's downfall ends on a more positive note. Long ago their land was connected to heaven by a magical vine, from which spirits would visit them in human form. ``Nobody was ever sick / in those days. Nobody died.'' And the spirits treat everyone equally, until one day the people notice that a spirit ``favored a certain young man'' more than was customary. In their jealousy they set out to make the young man's life miserable, and soon the spirit returns to bear his friend away up the sacred vine. When his grieving grandmother tries to follow, the vine collapses and the tribe suffers the punishment of disease and death. Although they will no longer live forever, the Ojibways are given the knowledge of herbal healing to deal with their newfound ills. Esbensen's rhythmic and powerful blank verse avoids didacticism but gets its message across: that envy, hostility, and disobedience have no place in a peaceful society. Davie's paintings combine elements of abstraction and realism that nicely complement the text. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2 Up-- This elegantly illustrated Ojibway pourquoi tale explains the origin of the healing powers of Indian medicine men as told by an Ojibway chief in 1850. The tale is simply told in large print on each verso opposite a full-page watercolor painting with a colorful, intricate border. The softly colored pastel tones with eye-catching use of perspective and depth and traditional patterns and designs suggest the integral relationship between man and nature. According to legend, the Great Spirit created a world filled with strong people who never experienced sickness or death. Messengers from the sky conducted the old back to the sky by way of a magic vine. When an old woman climbs the forbidden vine to keep her grandson from being taken away, she falls and breaks it, thus cutting off the connection between earth and sky, and bringing sickness and death to her people. The spirits reveal to the medicine men, however, the healing powers of nature. This legend could be used effectively in storytelling, and would also be of interest to students of comparative folklore because of its parallels to the Christian concept of Eden and original sin. --Yvonne A. Frey, Peoria Public Library, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316249522
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 2/7/1991
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years

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