Wood (Northwoods Cradle Song, p. 302, etc.) has wisely chosen to adapt a Windigo tale that explains nature, rather than one that induces nightmares (the Windigo figures in north woods tales as everything from a monster to a symbol of men driven wild by the wilderness itself; tales about them make for classic ""ghost stories"" for around the campfire) for this book. When a band of Ojibwe notices that some hunters, then an old grandmother, have disappeared, the elders of the tribe are consulted. One of them recalls the story of the Windigo, who long ago caused people to vanish in a similar way. At the tribal council, the suggestion to trap the Windigo in a large pit seems the only solution. When the Windigo falls into the trap, the tribe finishes him off with fire. The Windigo's dying curse--to come back and eat the tribe and all future generations--seems to come true the following summer, when mosquitoes plague the tribe with bites. The changing seasons flow through this story like a slow river, linking the plot to nature's calendar. Couch's hazy style of illustration portrays the north woods as a setting where possibility always lurks in the mist, a perfect place for tales to grow.