The Reindeer People

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dressed in gaily trimmed tunic and reindeer-skin boots with curving toes, Ola joins other Laplanders to follow the reindeer herds in their spring migration. Taking the reader with Ola, Lewin (Amazon Boy; When the Rivers Go Home) introduces the Sami people who live north of the Arctic Circle, a people whose centuries-old customs are surviving the modern world. Six vignettes portray a blue, frozen land teeming with activity: from the reindeer-drawn sledge ride (``a leaping, grunting, bucking, eye-bulging, tongue-lolling stampede'') to the corral (where reindeer ``wheel around like a school of fish'') to the race (the Sami's ``own special kind of madness'') and finally, to the wedding (where the crowding friends ``carry video cameras and wear reindeer clothes'' and the couple ``walks arm in arm out of the fairy tale into a waiting taxi and the twentieth century''). The author's highly descriptive prose is as luxurious as a reindeer coat, and his finely detailed, snapshot-style watercolors will engage readers of any age. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-A picture book featuring the people of Lapland that highlights their dependence on reindeer for food, clothing, tools, income, entertainment, and the unusual juxatposition of traditional and modern ways of doing things. The first three vignettelike chapters follow Ola, a Sami herdsman, as he rides a sledge to camp and rounds up his herd of 400 reindeer. Lewin then describes an Arctic snow picnic, a sledge race, and a wedding. Although the text includes a wealth of sights, sounds, and description of the frigid landscape, the images are lacking in depth and detail, and the transitions between chapters are abrupt and confusing. The watercolor paintings, while pleasing to look at, often do not reflect the text, and are occasionally indistinct or vague. The page layout is attractive; the illustrations, with one exception, take up three quarters of each double page. The text, enclosed in a double-line border, sits in a vertically elongated rectangular box. However, the focus on adults and their activities makes this title of limited appeal to children. Piers Vitebsky's Saami of Lapland (Thomson Learning, 1994) is a better introduction to this vanishing way of life.-Roz Goodman, Bering Strait School District Media Center, Unalakleet, AK
Julie Corsaro
Readers will no longer think of Lapland as a bleak, barren setting after seeing Lewin's exquisite paintings that chronicle life among the indigenous Sami people. Taking a you-are-there approach, the text opens as Ola, a Sami herdsman, struggles to hitch his team of reindeer to a sledge. After the five-hour ride out to his camp, he mounts a snowmobile to round up his herd of 500 beasts. Emphasizing the relationship between Sami culture and environment, Lewin moves on to a picnic and reindeer races, then concludes with a traditional wedding. While the narrative could have been clearer and more cohesive (and there is often little relationship between the text and the pictures), this is still enriching and fun. Contrasting the clean, cool ivories and blues of the frozen landscape with the vivid red, blues, and yellows of indigenous dress, the intricately detailed watercolors have an astonishing level of realism: two men dragging a lassoed animal look as if they're about to walk off the page.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780027573909
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.33 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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