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A retelling of the story of Raven, the Native American trickster, with illustrations based on traditional designs from the Pacific Northwest.

Raven, a Pacific Coast Indian trickster, sets out to find the sun.

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A retelling of the story of Raven, the Native American trickster, with illustrations based on traditional designs from the Pacific Northwest.

Raven, a Pacific Coast Indian trickster, sets out to find the sun.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McDermott's crisply elegant version of a traditional Native American tale resounds with lyrical prose and the stylization of myth. The illustrations, in striking contrasts, echo the central theme of the birth of the sun by visually leading readers from darkness into light--McDermott adroitly juxtaposes a blurred backdrop of mist-drenched landscape against the sharp, bright colors of Raven himself and the glowing interior of the Sky Chief's domicile. Raven's sadness at seeing men and women living ``in the dark and cold,'' without the warmth of the sun leads him to search out light. The trickster sets his plan in motion by being reborn as son to the Sky Chief's daughter. The doting grandfather, wanting the boy to be happy, commands that Raven-child be given an effulgent ball that he discovers in a shimmering box. With this orb--the sun--firmly in his grasp, the cunning creature changes back into a bird and soars off; whereupon ``Raven threw the sun high in the sky, and it stayed there.'' With this masterfully executed reworking, McDermott adds to the folktale bookshelf a work in the grand tradition. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1 Up-- All the world is in darkness at the beginning of this traditional tale from the Indian cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Raven feels sorry for the people living in the gloomy cold, so he flies to the house of the Sky Chief in search of light and warmth. To get inside, Raven pulls a shape-shifting trick that allows him to be born to the god's daughter. As a spoiled and comic infant, Raven demands and gets the shiny ball that the gods have hidden away. The art and text capture the spirit of the Native American trickster hero; benevolent, clever, magical, unscrupulous, and ultimately triumphant, Raven acts out human virtues and foibles on a cosmic scale. The mixed-media illustrations contrast the foggy cold of the Northwest Coast with the cozy interior of a native plank house. Traditional dress, furnishings, and house construction are clearly depicted, as are the tender and indulgent emotions of the Sky Chief and his family. As Raven shape-shifts through the story, visual and verbal clues let children see that his essential nature remains intact. The book invites comparisons with other trickster heroes like Africa's Anansi and the Native American Coyote, as well as with stories of fire bringers like Prometheus. The physical environment, oral literature, and traditional life of the Pacific Coast Indians come alive in this amusing and well-conceived picture book. --Carolyn Polese, Gateway Community School, Arcata, CA
Carolyn Phelan
Turning to the Pacific Northwest for inspiration, the Caldecott Medal-winning artist uses native American motifs for this traditional tale told by the tribes of the area. This simple, rhythmic version of the story reads well, particularly for a young audience. Sad to see the earth's people always in darkness, Raven flies to the Sky Chief's house, where the sky people keep the sun hidden all the time. Reborn as the Sky Chief's grandson, Raven steals the sun and flings it into the sky, where it sheds light on the earth's people. In the handsome double-page spreads, Raven, whether he appears as a bird or child, is always marked with a distinctive design of clear-cut red, green, and blue on black, sharply contrasting with the softer hues and forms of the backgrounds and the other characters. In this way, Raven is always recognizable, even when he shifts his shape to human form. A brief note introduces Raven, a trickster who "balances his heroism and trickery to bring a blessing to the people." Read this picture book aloud for the full effect of its simple, rhythmic text and striking artwork.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756906665
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Bks.
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 529,768
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

GERALD MCDERMOTT is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator and the creator of numerous award-winning books and animated films for children. Winner of the Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors, he is also a consultant to the Joseph Campbell Foundation on mythology in education. Mr. McDermott lives in Southern California. www.geraldmcdermott.com

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Customer Reviews

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