Books by Shannon K. Jacobs

Released: Sept. 1, 1993

In an original story inspired by Native-American culture, a boy discovers that he can wake the dawn with his flutesongs. Full of pride, he demonstrates to his entire tribe, gathered for his naming ceremony, that he can make the sun rise at midnight. His grandfather's shame at this display helps the boy learn that his gift should not be used arrogantly, to unbalance Creation; it is rightly used to honor it, and only then does the boy receive a worthy name. Set when Plains Indians were beginning to suffer from the decimation of buffalo herds and encroachments of white settlers, the thought-provoking story turns on their beliefs in the sacredness of earth and the kinship of creatures. The texture of Hays's canvas shows through his light-filled acrylic paintings, in yellows, blues, and browns bordered with decorative geometric friezes. The midnight sunrise is intensely dramatic—the huge ball of the sun rising through streaks of cloud, with the awestruck tribe silhouetted in the foreground. Given the book's length and the subtlety of its ideas, best suited for children older than the usual picture-book crowd. (Picture book. 7-11) Read full book review >
SONG OF THE GIRAFFE by Shannon K. Jacobs
Released: Dec. 1, 1991

When the Bokuru tribe, their water supply exhausted, plans a feast for their ancestors in the hope of finding a spring celebrated in their oral history, Kisana (10) has a series of dreams in which a giraffe gives her clues to the spring's location. Following the giraffe's directions, she goes in search of an ancient baobob tree; along the way, she meets a Naba boy, Xu, whose voice reminds her of the giraffe's. Xu takes Kisana to his grandmother, who tells her that the tree is dead; Kisana then sings a song about the giraffe that is so sweet that the old woman presents her with the baobob's last pod—but when she returns to her village, her enemy Lavo crushes the pod. With no other gift for the ancestors, Kisana again sings the song of the giraffe, which sends the village leader into a trance that enables him to find the spring after all. Told in a simple, folkloric style, this lovely story brings tribal Africa and its plains vividly to life while incorporating a couple of contemporary concerns: with her light skin and small stature, Kisana differs from her tribe; she also, like the peaceful Naba, believes that hunters should take no more than they need. More serious than most chapter books at this level, but still lively enough to entertain. Johnson's soft, realistic b&w drawings are just reminiscent enough of African tribal art to add a pleasantly exotic flavor. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >