The Great Ball Game: A Muskogee Story

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This adaptation of a popular Native American story pits Animals against Birds in a contest to settle an all-too-human question: Who's better? Here, it's the teeth versus the wings in stickball, a lacrosse-style game in which the players hold a stick in each hand. When the contestants take their sides, the anomalous Bat, who sports both teeth and wings, is rejected by both teams. Finally, Bear shows sympathy, saying, ``You are not very big, but sometimes even the small ones can help.'' Bat is benched, however, until the Animals catch on to the Birds' obvious advantage: with ball in beak, the Birds fly high above the playing field. But as evening darkness descends, Bat flies into gear to win the game with his elusive, darting aerobatics. As the victor, Bat decrees that the Birds must leave for half the year. And, according to Muskogee legend, this resolution explains why bats are categorized as animals and why birds fly south for the winter. With clear, minimal language, Bruchac see The Girl Who Married the Moon, reviewed below wisely lets the myth carry itself. While the three-dimensional effect of Roth's Fire Came to the Earth People textured paper collages is striking and initially intriguing, the illustrations do not much embellish the sparely told story. But in its call for an athletic game to settle a dispute-and thereby avoid fighting-the book handily inverts the Greco-Roman tradition of sport as training for war. Ages 4-8. Sept.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The question is-why do birds fly south every winter? The answer lies in a long ago ball game that was played between the animals with teeth and the birds with wings. The bat was not accepted by the animals, because he had wings, nor by the birds, because of his teeth. Finally the animals told him he could be on their side. His quick wings and clear night vision led the animals to victory, and to their decision that the losing side had to leave the land for half of the year. A Muskogee pourquoi tale.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In this traditional Muskogee story, the birds and the animals quarrel over which group is better, those with wings or those with teeth. The argument threatens to turn into all-out war, so the creatures decide to settle it by playing a ball game instead. When the game which resembles lacrosse starts, no one wants little, weak Bat to play on their side. But in the end it is Bat-with both teeth and wings-who wins the match for the animals. As a result the birds are banished to the south each winter. This porquoi tale is told in clean, spare sentences with the emphasis on action and character. In a foreword, Bruchac briefly discusses ball games in traditional Native American life, including the role of sports in conflict management. He mentions two other written versions of the story, as well as Louis Littlecoon Oliver's, which he cites as his source. Unfortunately, the cut-and-torn paper illustrations are too crudely done to convey character or provide details that would have enriched the book. The helter-skelter compositions distract readers from what is otherwise an entertaining tale.-Carolyn Polese, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Carolyn Phelan
In this Muskogee Indian tale, the birds argue with the beasts about which are better--those with teeth or those with wings. When the quarrel escalates to the brink of war, both sides agree to settle their disagreement on the playing field. The first side to score a point will set the other's punishment. The bat, who has wings as well as teeth, is initially spurned by both sides, then permitted to join the beasts. He scores the goal and banishes the birds for half the year. "So it is that the Birds fly south each winter. . . . And every day at dusk Bat still comes flying to see if the Animals need him to play ball." Roth's dynamic collages combine cut papers of varied textures and hues to create a series of effective illustrations. Short and well told, this appealing "pourquoi" tale lends itself to reading aloud.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803715394
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.74 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.

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