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The Bone Keeper
     

The Bone Keeper

by Megan McDonald, Dorling Kindersley Publishing Staff, G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)
 
Searching this way and that across the wide, scoured distances outside her cave, the Bone Woman collects the bones she needs to build a creature. Once done, it is a while before her creation stirs, shakes itself, and stands. What will it be? Inspired by creation myths from many desert cultures, words and full-color artwork cast an indelible spell.

Overview

Searching this way and that across the wide, scoured distances outside her cave, the Bone Woman collects the bones she needs to build a creature. Once done, it is a while before her creation stirs, shakes itself, and stands. What will it be? Inspired by creation myths from many desert cultures, words and full-color artwork cast an indelible spell.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a mythic narrative voice accompanied by primitive images, McDonald (Is This a House for Hermit Crab?) describes a mysterious old woman who sifts sand to find bones. Readers can almost hear a drumbeat accompaniment to the text: "Like the desert pack rat,/ the harvester ant,/ Bone Woman lives deep in a cave,/ a cave cluttered with bones, bones." Against an off-white chalkiness that suggests a sun-bleached skull, the crone's stooped silhouette seeks tiny bone pieces of long-dead creatures. "Some say Bone Woman brings the dead back to life," whispers the unseen narrator, who tells how the Bone Woman assembles "spine of snake, skull of lizard.../ claw of badger,/ wishbone of owl,/ wing bone of bat" into the skeleton of a wolf that, accompanied by Bone Woman's wailing and dancing, is reborn and lopes off into the night. Karas, in a departure from the pencil-cartoon style of Raising Sweetness (reviewed below), takes a minimalist approach to the dreamlike, ceremonial prose. He chooses excessively thick media that could be mud or clay, then shapes it like plaster or marks it with indentations. The illustrations in sandstone brown and pale yellow hues offer nary a hint of plant life, and their heavy, relief-sculpture quality acts as a counterbalance to the text's airy mysticism. Although this tale of death and creation is not attributed to a particular native tradition, the iconic art evokes prehistoric times and adds weight to the storyteller's hypnotic chant. Ages 5-8.(Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-An eerie tale with mythical qualities, set in the Southwestern desert. The protagonist is an elemental creature referred to as the Bone Keeper and additionally as Owl, Rattlesnake, or Bone Woman. This ancient entity wanders through the desert alternately laughing, singing, and chanting while collecting bones from the sand. She gathers her finds deep in a cave and then calls together the desert animals for a show of sorts-that of a skeleton maker. When at long last she has assembled her creation and performed the appropriate rituals, a flesh-and-blood wolf emerges. The process by which this miraculous transformation takes place is mysterious to say the least. Young readers will be puzzled by the text's enigmatic description of the Bone Keeper's supernatural machinations, as well as the illustrations. Artwork resembling primitive petroglyphs employs "a variety of materials, conventional and otherwise," to achieve a grainy and highly textured appearance. Most of the figures depicted are obscure and shadowy. The effect of both text and art is to create more mood than substance. There is too much left unspoken, perhaps lost in the sands of time, to convey a coherent story.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From McDonald (Tundra Mouse, 1997, etc.), a haunting, dramatic glimpse of the Bone Keeper, a trickster with special transformational powers. Some say Bone Woman is a ghost; some envision her with three heads that view past, present, and future simultaneously. Most, however, call her the "Skeleton Maker" or "Keeper of Bones." Chanting, shaking, moaning, and wailing, the Bone Keeper is frenzied as she sorts bones; not until the end of the book are readers told, in murmuring lines of free verse, what the Bone Keeper is creating in her mysterious desert cave. Out of the darkness, a wolf springs to life, leaps from the cave, howling, a symbol of resurrection and proof of life's cyclical nature. Also keeping readers guessing as to the Bone Keeper's final creation are Karas's paintings; they, too, require that the final piece of the puzzle be placed before all are understood. The coloring and textures embody the desert setting in the evening, showing the fearsome cave and sandy shadows that wait to release the mystery of the bones. (Picture book. 5-8) .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780789425591
Publisher:
DK Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.48(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.36(d)
Lexile:
AD750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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