Songs for Survival: Songs and Chants from Tribal Peoples around the World

Songs for Survival: Songs and Chants from Tribal Peoples around the World

by Nikki Siegen-Smith, Bernard Lodge

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Attractive in its presentation, this British import, an anthology of songs and chants from the tribal peoples of six continents, may exert its strongest appeal to elementary school teachers looking for supplemental texts about tribal cultures. The entries are divided into songs about "beginnings," those that venerate the "living world," those that discuss the elements and those that celebrate survival. Siegen-Smith samples an impressive range of sources; there are a dozen peoples from Africa alone. Lodge, meanwhile, works in a unified style, supplying lino-cuts that seem generally primitivist but are specific to no one culture. A repeated line of tiny figures dances across the bottom of each page while individual prints, faintly reminiscent of cave art or museum artifacts, embellish given songs. An entry grouped under "The Living World," for example, a children's game from Thailand "Crocodile! Crocodile!... You can't bite us!"is illustrated with a design of bright yellow and green outlined in black, in the shape of a river crocodile, while a footnote explains the riverside game of tag that the chant typically accompanies. The volume includes an introduction and appendix written by Stephen Corry, director of Survival Internationalto which proceeds from the sale of the book will be donatedthat discusses the importance of songs in all cultures and the location and customs of various tribal groups. Ages 8-up. (May)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Gathered from cultures around the globe, these songs and chants echo the universal concerns of the world's tribal peoples-primarily respect for the land and its future. A Yoruba chant warns us to "Enjoy the earth gently/ ...It cannot be repaired." Another African song suggests that the planet has been "lent to us by our children." The enormity of nature is celebrated, as is the determination to protect one's land from invaders. Vibrantly colored illustrations offer a celebration of life. Continuity is communicated visually by a running border comprised of small tribal figures that appear at the bottom of every page. Lodge has captured artistically the consistent themes that absorb and hold readers' attention. This unique title adds an important perspective to multicultural education and environmental studies. It is a worthwhile addition to any collection as it presents a global picture and can be combined with titles dealing with specific groups such as John Bierhorst's On the Road of Stars (Macmillan, 1994) and Songs Are Thoughts, a collection of Inuit poems edited by Neil Phillip (Orchard, 1995).Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A handsomely packaged collection of lyrics and proverbs, subtitled "Songs and Chants From Tribal Peoples Around the World," gathered from several dozen endangered cultures.

Loosely grouped by subject, most of the selections are celebratory: "I lift my voice like the burning incense of flowers," sings an Aztec poet; to an African Dinka, "My bull is white like the silver fish in the river." For an Inuit, "only one thing/is great;/to see from my home/the day coming. . . ." Planting songs, lullabies, and children's chants are connected to familiar activities; others, such as the New Guinea "Cycle of A'Asia"—"Aia sitting seated/sitting forever/Aia living alive/living forever . . ."—are pretty words, removed from context. Lodge's colored linocuts have a naive look that suggests tribal art without evoking any specific culture's style; equally evocative is a running frieze of tiny figures along the bottoms of pages created by Cica Fitipaldi to decorate Brazil's Yanomami Park. Despite scattered glosses and a brief note at the end, readers infer only hints of each culture's individual character, but the universal sense that Earth is powerful in some ways and fragile in others comes through clearly.

Product Details

DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date:
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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