An Abenaki retelling of a traditional story of various indigenous nations of the Northeast that centers on loyalty and humans’ relation to nature.
Long ago, a young man travels north to hunt throughout the winter. One day, as he is following the tracks of a moose, he realizes he is lonely and wishes out loud for a partner. Returning to his lodge, he finds a fire burning and food waiting, but there is no one there. This goes on for days; on the seventh night he finds a woman waiting inside. The young man and woman develop a relationship based on respect and loyalty, and the hunter promises to always remember her. When he returns to his village in the spring, he finds himself pressured to take a wife. This tension eventually leads the hunter to live a double life, testing his devotion to and respect for the “great family of life.” Through his scenic paintings, Farnsworth evokes the light, seasons, and life in the forested mountains of the Northeast, supporting Bruchac’s words and achieving a striking visual depiction of the environment of Abenaki peoples. The narrative itself is elliptical, offering literal readers a story of loyalty but founding it on a subtle exploration of the spirit world and its relation to ours.
Bruchac and Farnsworth honor the Indians of the Northeast, the written versions of the tale, and the elders and Wabanaki tellers who keep this story alive. (author’s note) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)