Indian and Eskimo masks and the ceremonies they are used in are a natural subject for Byrd Baylor and from the start she...

READ REVIEW

THEY PUT ON MASKS

Indian and Eskimo masks and the ceremonies they are used in are a natural subject for Byrd Baylor and from the start she makes us feel their power and magic: ""They made their masks of/ wood/ and deerskin/ and seashells/ and cornhusks/ and horsehair/ and bones.// Yes,/ and they made them of/ magic/ and dreams/ and the oldest dark secrets/ of life."" The Eskimo masks, which are based on dreams and ""always keep the look of dreams about them,"" are ""so magical the carver himself has to touch them carefully"" and Yaqui masks are""so powerful a Pascola dancer turns his mask to the side of his head until the moment he begins to dance."" Unfortunately Jerry Ingram's fiat illustrations of three to five masks per double page echo none of the magic. Resembling cutouts from cereal boxes, they float against a wave-shaped background on two-toned pages -- some green or yellow, some baby blue, some (inexplicably) even pink or mauve -- that recall merchandising displays more than they do the dreams and prayers and things of the earth that Byrd Baylor evokes in her lyrical text that is almost a chant. Of course the fact that Jerry Ingram is not Tom Bahti (who illustrated Baylor's Before You Came This Way, 1969, and When Clay Sings, 1972), though regrettable, does not disqualify the whole, and They Put On Masks remains a valuable first look at an impressive subject.

Pub Date: April 15, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974