“An excellent choice that will provoke both introspection and discussion.”—The Horn Book
“Offers readers new perspectives on the natural world and an excellent curricular connection. A solid addition for school and public libraries.”—Booklist
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The silent stories of our ancient land and its native peoples are given voice in reverential prose poems and radiant paintings.
Little Turtle asks his uncle, Old Bear, about the existence and meaning of sacred places; Old Bear's answer is a procession of legends, each accompanied by a full-page painting. Each tale is colorful, if stiff; each contains an ethical point; each represents a direction or an aspect of direction by which people locate themselves in physical and spiritual landscapes: east, west, north, south, center, above, below, balance lost, and balance held. The superfluous framework of the uncle and nephew's conversation includes a throwaway reference to a powwow they'll be attending later that day; much of what Old Bear conveys in these scenes is also covered by Bruchac in an author's note that precedes them. In fact, the frame (and Old Bear's overarching first-person presence in the legends) distances readers, creating a gap that the real beckoning treasures of this bookthe tales themselves and Locker's monumental oil landscapescannot bridge.
JOSEPH BRUCHAC is a poet, storyteller, and author of more than sixty books for children and adults who has received many literary honors, including the American Book Award and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. He is of Abenaki and Slovak heritage, and lives in Greenfield Center, New York.
THOMAS LOCKER has written and illustrated many award-winning books for children, including the companion titles Water Dance and Mountain Dance. He lives in Stuyvesant, New York.
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