Rabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace

Overview

"The power of the bones!" Ji-Stu the Rabbit sings along as he dances around the fire with a flock of shiny ravens. The ravens have traveled a great distance to visit Ji-Stu's forest, and Ji-Stu is pleased to learn that he alone is invited to their dance. He brags, "Why, even these ravens who live far away in the desert have heard of me!"

Ji-Stu soon learns that his dancing skills mean nothing to the feathered visitors. They are interested in only one thing—Ji-Stu's favorite necklace! The ravens offer him three ...

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Overview

"The power of the bones!" Ji-Stu the Rabbit sings along as he dances around the fire with a flock of shiny ravens. The ravens have traveled a great distance to visit Ji-Stu's forest, and Ji-Stu is pleased to learn that he alone is invited to their dance. He brags, "Why, even these ravens who live far away in the desert have heard of me!"

Ji-Stu soon learns that his dancing skills mean nothing to the feathered visitors. They are interested in only one thing—Ji-Stu's favorite necklace! The ravens offer him three beautiful blue-green stones if he will trade, but Ji-Stu is much too clever to let such a valuable necklace go. The ravens watch in silence as he leaves the dance grounds with the oddly shaped beads still tied around his neck. But before the long night is over, a frightened Ji-Stu will know the true meaning of "the power of the bones."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Based on the raven's prominent role in Cherokee legend, this original fable, tinged with creepy details, joins the collaborators' long-running series starring Ji-Stu the trickster rabbit. Wearing a necklace that he found while digging for onions, Ji-Stu joins a flock of ravens who try to trade him some blue-green rocks for the necklace. After he refuses, he learns that it is made from human finger bones—and that the ravens won't give up easily (a frightened Ji-Stu later surrenders the necklace). The next day, however, the rabbit feels emboldened and decides to retrieve it, accompanied by Little Raven, “the wisest of all the forest creatures.” During their journey, the raven shares a lengthy, somewhat anticlimactic history of the bone necklace, which brings the story's action to a halt. When the ravens laud Ji-Stu's arrival, he decides to leave well enough alone (their home is surrounded by skulls and bones, after all). Jacob's artwork features vivid skies and lush forest scenes, and his animals possess a totemic quality that gels with the folkloric aims of the story. But the book's message is elusive. Ages 6–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Susan Treadway M.Ed.
Trickster Rabbit, named "Ji-Stu" in the Cherokee language, is not as smart as he thinks he is. As in Irish bards and also in ancient Druid literature, the Cherokees believe that ravens are the wisest living creatures. In this tale, they successfully trick Ji-Stu into giving them the vital fingerbone necklace fashioned from the bones of humans that is missing from the raven village. An idol carved from stone named Xipe (pronounced "shee-pay") wore the fingerbone necklace to ward off intruders at the village entrance. Those particular bones are the most powerful of all the human bones that scattered there. Many rumors have been spread across the land about the magic and power of the bones used by ravens so that they have became truth. Ji-Stu thinks he knows what is valuable, especially when the ravens keep trying to get the necklace he found. They even want to trade by offering three bluish stones in an exchange. Well in that case, he definitely does not want to part with it. However, when he finally puts the necklace outside his house for them to snatch after a long sleepless night, he is quite upset that they do not leave anything in return as promised. Had he made a terrible mistake? Throughout the story Little Raven guides Ji-Stu through his dilemma so that at last the fingerbone necklace is returned to his relatives' village. They even kindly prepare a little nest of fresh twigs lined with beautiful feathers and moss where The Trickster keeps seven green and blue stones with one precious gold nugget. They tell him the nugget has been guarded by the ravens in a clear stream and saved just for him. From then on whenever he gazes at them, "Ji-Stu remembered the fingerbone necklace andthe power of the bones." He at last understands the true meaning of those bones. It is significant that lush paintings by Murv Jacob accompany the rich text written by Deborah L. Duvall, both of whom live and work in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the center of Cherokee tradition and culture. In addition, oral histories and laws are the responsibility of the Cherokee Lawgiver. He travels from village to village to insure that disputes are properly taken care of and that oral stories are told while wearing a black headdress of black raven feathers. In this manner his official status is boldly affirmed. Reviewer: Susan Treadway, M.Ed.
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Rabbit, whose Cherokee name is Ji-Stu, has been invited to a special dance by the ravens. He is the only guest, and it becomes apparent that the ravens plan to steal his treasured fingerbone necklace. Ji-Stu finally leaves his necklace for them in fear, but after the ravens take it, he wants it back. On the long journey to their village, Ji-Stu learns why the necklace is so important to the birds. In the framing story, Rabbit's desire for the return of the necklace is competently told. However, the substory of why the ravens value it is a little murky. Jacob's illustrations are glowing, warm, and full of line detail. The backdrops are beautiful and complex, but the animals stand out with personality. The story is long, with one page of text facing each picture, but it would most likely have regional interest.—Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826347237
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah L. Duvall is an author of books and short stories on Cherokee history and tradition, a singer-songwriter, and a professional in financial management. She was born and continues to live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capital of the Cherokee Nation.

Murv Jacob, a descendant of Kentucky Cherokees, is an internationally known artist whose illustrations appear in over seventy book and video projects. He won the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award for Design and Illustration for his drawings in The Great Ball Game of the Birds and Animals.

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