School Library Journal
Gr 2-4Meshikee, the wily old turtle, is a noisome and irritating neighbor for the Shagizens, the little crabs that inhabit the shores of the Great Lakes. Their schemes to rid themselves of this large and troublesome creature, only to have him outwit them, will be familiar to all who are acquainted with Brer Rabbit and other legendary tricksters. A source note appears at the end of the story. The authors include several details that are unique to the Ojibwe culture, e.g., the kind of rope used to entrap old Meshikee. This is a lengthy retelling, but it is, however, enlivened by the sound effects created for Meshikee's big drum and the smaller ones of the Shagizens. The illustrations are a combination of watercolor and block printing on etching paper, creating a bold, primitive effect. Since the text is intertwined with the colored illustrations, which are often quite busy, the print is sometimes difficult to decipher. The cartoonlike art is reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein's work in its "Pop Art" quality. In spite of its crowded layout, this offering should be useful for social-studies curriculums and comparative folklore units. A secondary purchase.Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
In this Ojibwa story, Old Meshikee the turtle beats his drum loudly, disturbing the drumming of his neighbors, the sand crabs. They capture him and prepare to burn him or boil him, but he convinces them to change their plans. Finally, they throw him into the deep, cold water of the lake, which he claims to dread most of all. Like Br'er Rabbit flung into the briar patch, Old Meshikee soon finds his way home. This picture book presents a traditional tale told in a colorful way, with colloquial speech and great drumming opportunities for the teller. The illustrations, bold block prints tinted with watercolors, seem rather busy up close, but look better at a distance. An entertaining read-aloud that shows the lighter side of Native American folktales.
Big Old Meshikee the turtle loves to sit outside, sing, and bang on his drum. But every time he makes music, the noise carries across the pond to the village of the Shagizenz, or little crabs, and drowns out the sound of their own little drums. The Shagizenz decide to put an end to the turtle, once and for all. They capture him, and threaten to burn him and then to boil him alive, but Old Meshikee escapes by suggesting that the crabs dump him into the deep water of the pond to drown him. Those poor little crabs, drumming in celebration of Old Meshikee's demise, hear his drumming join their own.
This tale will certainly become a read-aloud favorite, with the satisfying drum sounds written into the text and the colloquial, comfortable voice in which Spooner (A Moon in Your Lunch Box, 1993, etc.) and Taylor tell it. Just as original and fresh are the slightly abstract watercolor and block-print illustrations by newcomer Hart; they'll work better with older children than preschoolers, but there are few who won't enjoy looking at and listening to this retelling of an old Ojibwe story.