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Children's LiteratureAGERANGE: Ages 11 up.
The "Myths of the World" series offers middle school and teen readers a look at the mythology of several ancient cultures in an appealing format with striking, well-chosen illustrations. Starting with an introduction to world mythology, this volume presents a chapter about the many diverse Native American cultures on our continent and includes a map of North America that shows the ten culture areas with tribal names on the opposite page, stressing each tribe's relationship to its own natural environment. A second part narrates myths from a variety of cultures, illustrated with color photos of artifacts (a red and black Tlingit salmon rattle), prints (a snarling Coyote), and paintings (Alaskan Natives surveying snowy peaks from blue water)--beautiful, though not often enough identified by artist and date. Author Schomp reshapes the stories adeptly, sometimes adopting an ancient voice ("The Blackfoot Speak") as in the myth "Old Man and the Berries." Readers will meet tricksters like Raven (Tlingit/Tsimshian), Coyote and Iktomi (Sioux), the hero Glooscap (Micmac/Abenaki), and animals Turtle, Beaver, Loon, and Porcupine. Spirit characters appear in "The Corn Maidens" (Zuni) and "A Visit to the Land of the Dead" (Karuk). The author makes it clear that present-day Native Americans continue to tell these ancient tales and, like their ancestors, engage in traditional dances, ceremonies, and crafts. Special features include a discussion of sources for the myths and a list of books and websites that captivated readers can explore further (see also the exquisite picture books of Paul Goble). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft