Hall's (Sunday, Moonday) glorious illustrations redeem the meandering narrative in this tale of second chance. Angered when he sees humankind taking the fertile world for granted, Raven hides the sun. An opening spread of an idyllic village where people and animals lived peacefully side by side gives way to a succeeding spread of forest fires, men preying on whales and deer pursued by spears. Hall portrays icy hues of blue and violet blanketing the earth as Raven carries out his punishment, though the moon and stars never leave the sky. But Raven also leaves something behind: a single feather. When a woman swallows the feather, she gives birth to a magical boy who one day redeems the world by bringing back the sun. Though younger readers may lose track of the action or grow impatient for the denouement, the detailed pictures should hold their attention. Hall possesses the aesthetic sensibility of an accomplished muralist: her panoramic sense of space and elegantly stylized characterizations are ideal for conveying the heightened reality and incantatory pull of myth. At the same time, the meticulousness of her brushstrokes and the swooping, rolling shape of her lines and textures give the spreads an intimacy and dynamism. Ages 5-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 1-4-Hall blends themes and motifs from Native Alaskan lore to weave her original tale. Raven has come from his home above the sky and discovered the world below. He creates people and animals to inhabit its mountains, rivers, and forests, and gives the people a special song to remind them to respect the life around them. When they become greedy and violent and forget the song, he tears the sun from the sky, leaving the world to freeze. When he returns to his home above the sky, he leaves one small feather behind. It is swallowed by a woman who later gives birth to a son, "Little Darkness," and it is this child who frees the imprisoned sun from the icy mountain. Hall has a solid storyteller's voice, and her telling emerges with a refreshing smoothness and clarity. Her folk-style illustrations are an appropriate match, ranging from detailed panoramas of the world below to an angry Raven who encompasses a full spread. The use of color is striking, with chilly blues and slightly eerie greens. An attractive addition for most collections.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Weaving together important themes in Native Alaskan culture, Hall (The Hard to Swallow Tale of Jonah and the Whale, not reviewed, etc.) creates a hauntingly original story. Seeing the earth for the first time, Raven who lives "in a land above the sky" creates humans and other creatures to inhabit this beautiful place and bestows upon them "a special song . . . to remind them to love and respect the life around them." But as the people grow greedy and violent, Raven casts the world in darkness and ice by taking away the sun. As he flies away, Raven plucks a "farewell feather from his breast." Eventually, that feather falls to earth and into an icy stream. It is swallowed by a woman who goes on to give birth to a child named "Little Darkness." When he is older, the child travels to the place where Raven lives and, seeing sunlight for the first time, picks through an icy mountain to uncover its glow. Just as he is about to unveil the sun, a piece of ice breaks away and sends Little Darkness tumbling towards his death. At that moment, Raven swoops down to save him. With Little Darkness on his back, Raven seizes the sun and replaces it in the sky, revealing Little Darkness to his worried mother and casting light upon the long-darkened world. Luxurious in detail and rendered in a rich, naturalistic palette, Hall's intricate illustration have a folkloric feel. This, coupled with her unique perspective on a common theme, make the dramatic read-aloud an easy addition to multicultural collections. (Picture book/folktale. 5-9)