For its noble purpose--to help preserve a disappearing Native American tongue and its culture--this book deserves praise. The S'Klallam people of Washington State share their rivers and lives with the returning spring salmon. Poetic words fill their days and seasons ``like the wind, the songs of birds, and the swirl of the tide.'' But Hirschi's slight, impersonal story is burdened with too many details and a scope too comprehensive for younger readers. The sensitively conceived text buckles under the weight of more than 30 tongue-tripping S'Klallam words. And the glossary, with its instruction to pronounce the new vocabulary ``by thinking of the rain-soaked forests, tide-washed beaches . . . of the Pacific Northwest,'' is not easily approached even by adults. However, these shortcomings do not negate either Bergum's elegant watercolor illustrations or Hirschi's characteristically flowing language. Because of the high quality of text and art, the book may speak eloquently to readers with a special affinity for the language of the S'Klallam or other Native American tribes. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)
Janice Del Negro
Using words her grandmother, or Seya, taught her from the S'Klallam (formerly Clallam) language, a language nearly lost, a young girl describes the salmon returning to the rivers, the fish's life cycle, the cycle of the seasons, and the traditional ways of the S'Klallam. Hirschi's text is simple, poetic, and concrete: "We dance (kwoieishten), and the stars come out in the nighttime sky like families gathering for our winter celebration." Bergum's watercolors are uneven and occasionally do not adequately reflect the content of the very specific text. For the most part, however, they are pleasantly supportive. And the book is a good example of an accessible representation of a culture and will be used in and outside the classroom. A glossary of S'Klallam words and a guide to pronunciation are included, as is an afterword that discusses the S'Klallam way of life.