Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyCurry (Back in the Beforetime) retells 27 Algonquian creation, pourquoi and trickster tales in this well-rounded collection. Each conveys an underlying respect for all creatures and their interconnectedness, a belief held by various Algonquian nations, including the Blackfoot, Shawnee and Pequot tribes. Another recurring theme, that in the past all beings possessed a mystical ability to change shapes, comes through in the title story: when a flood destroys the world, an enormous ancient turtle rescues Nanabush (a manito or spirit) and all the surviving animals from the tallest tree; he creates the "Second World" atop his enormous shell. ("That is why the Lenap call this earth they live on Turtle Island. And when the earth quakes, they say, it is the Great Turtle, moving in his sleep.") Other tales offer insight into the nations' governing practices, as in "Why Blackfeet Never Kill Mice," when a human chief helps settle an argument between the animal and bird council with a battle of wits. The closing "Glooskap's Farewell Gifts" explores the relationship between man and God (Glooskap). Brief information about each tribe's history and storytelling traditions follows in an afterword. While humor infuses many of the tales, the cartoonish black-and-white illustrations, unfortunately, take the characters a bit too lightly, echoing 1940s movie characterizations of the Algonquians. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Gisela JerniganTales of talking cranberries, giants and Manabush the trickster, are featured in this collection of folktales from the Algonquian people, tribes that include the Lenape, Ojibway, Shawnee, Fox, Micmac, Cree and others. Many of the 27 stories explain the origins of natural phenomena, such as Nantucket Island or why crows are black. The retellings are enlivened by dialogue and many would be good for story times. Black-and-white illustrations and notes on the stories and storytellers are included. The latter actually gives a paragraph of information on some of the tribes.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 4-6-These more than two dozen traditional tales will delight any storyteller. Ranging from the strange "The Bear Maiden" (Ojibway) and the delightful "Beaver and Muskrat Change Tails" (Malecite) to a story of transformation, "How Glooskap Defeated the Great Bullfrog" (Passamaquoddy), every story is written in simple, easily flowing language that's perfect for telling. Beginning with "The Creator Makes the World" (Lenap ) and ending with "Glooskap's Farewell Gifts" (Micmac/Passamaquoddy), the stories are arranged in a logical order. Sometimes two or three together lead into one another very smoothly through similar themes or characters. This collection offers a selection as broad as Joseph Bruchac's Native American Animal Stories (Fulcrum, 1992) and as entertaining as Seneca Indian Stories (Greenfield Review, 1995) by Ha-yen-doh-nees (Leo Cooper) and Maggi Cunningham's The Cherokee Tale-Teller (Dillon, 1978; o.p.). A brief introduction gives some background on the Algonquian peoples, especially the Lenap , and is accompanied by a simple map showing locations in the United States and Canada of "Some of the Algonquian Peoples." Back matter includes "About the Storytellers," which gives a paragraph or two about each of the 17 source tribes represented by the selections. "About the Stories" lists sources from which each tale is derived. Curry has done a fine job of providing a wealth of tales ready for presentation by other tellers.-Ann G. Brouse, Big Flats Branch Library, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsAn engaging collection of 27 authentic tales gathered from the various Algonquian nations, many of which no longer exist. Each of the brief legends includes a notation citing its origin, as well as an accompanying black-and-white illustration. Organized in a rough sequential order, the tales explain how the world came into being, recount acts of bravery, and reveal why animals behave the way that they do. The Objibway tale, "The Great Flood," shows how the world was nearly destroyed by a great flood, caused by the spirits of the underworld. The companion story from the Lenapé, "Turtle Island," recounts how the Earth was reclaimed after the torrential floods: all of the animals gathered on an immense turtle's back, which spread the new dirt that formed Earth. "Rainbow Crow," also from the Lenapé, shows how not even the great creator could stop snow from falling, that the Snow Spirit has to follow the Wind Spirit to the east, and that the crow became black from the selfless act of carrying fire to earth. Beautifully conceived and executed, this collection renews the old stories, giving them immediacy for contemporary readers. (Folklore. 9-12)
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