Nordgren retells the unusual Christmas story he says he heard from Steve Fobister, whose grandfather told it to Fobister as a child.
Blue Sky, an orphan treasured and parented by all in his Ashinaabe village, fulfills a prophecy when he sets out to find the greatest chief. His sacred vision, for which the village chief names him Anung, or Morning Star, takes him eastward, far from home and through various encounters with First Nations peoples and stories. Names for some plants, seasons and directions are given in Ojibwa. Turtle, a gifted interpreter of languages of people and animals, accompanies the young man. Anung escapes the clutches of Windigo and is suckled by a bear through a winter. At a vast city of longhouses at the edge of “waters that stretch the sky,” Anung learns that what he thought the end of his quest is the beginning of one across the waters to another land. There, in a shelter for animals at the edge of a village, a mother and father care for a newborn: the greatest chief of all the people. Anung, who has only his drum, plays and sings for the child. There’s almost an immediate anticlimax—Anung’s return is wrapped up in a few paragraphs. However, Nordgren avoids being preachy or overly sentimental, and his storytelling is compelling and rich in images.
A fascinating look at the melding of North American cultures. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)