As he has in the past, Bouchard (The Song within My Heart, 2015, etc.) joins talents with a multicultural team, in this case New Zealand–American illustrator Oelze, Kalapuya flautist Jan Michael Looking Wolf, and Dakota translator Goodwill, to present an uplifting tale.
Audiences will quickly become immersed in the combination of storytelling, music, and artwork. Dancing Raven has many skills, but his passion, dancing, is not recognized until Grandfather Cedar shows him the path of love and gifts him a flute. A prologue explains that this telling has been handed down from Looking Wolf's uncle. Their tribal affiliation is not indicated within the book, nor are source notes for other versions of the story provided, so those unfamiliar with Native American folklore and cultures must trust and enjoy the experience as presented. Text appears in English and Dakota, while CD tracks in English, French, and Dakota invite a wide audience. Those who have never heard it will be fascinated by the sound of the Dakota language, which is recorded by an older, gravelly voice that resonates with gravitas (the narrator is not named). Looking Wolf's music is atmospheric and moving. Masterful paintings—lush, vibrant, frequently suffused with sunlight—do not so much extend the text as accompany it, as if selected after the fact rather than crafted for it.
If a bit patchwork, the package is still powerful. (Picture book/folk tale. 8-12)