Short, original tales and paintings celebrate Native American heritage. Fifield and Erdrich (enrolled in Oneida and Ojibway tribes) are young women already known for their work in other venues. Here, Erdrich has written original stories to accompany Fifield’s paintings. Her brief tales, each a few paragraphs, tell of Plains animals and people helping each other, as in “Crows Cawed a Warning,” or “Bears Return the Lost Children.” Her language is natural and lyrical, and reads well aloud: “Sky Chief is like a giant eagle. Some know him as Thunderbird, the messenger of the Creator. His voice is the first gigantic crack! of thunder in a storm, and his flashing eyes are the lightning.” Fifield’s watercolors, in vibrant earth tones, cover half or two-thirds of each wide spread. Her piecework-like compositions solidly straddle the line between realism and imagination. The layout gives equal weight to story and picture, encompassing one tale fully on a spread, though the spot picture and phrase in bold in each margin, reproduced directly from the text and picture on the same spread, add nothing but a visual anchor. Though clearly based on a tradition of Native American lore, Erdrich gives no indication that these are anything but her original stories; and neither the stories nor pictures refer to any one specific tribe. Taken as a work of fiction, this is still evocative of traditions very much alive today, though not widely evident in children’s literature. If it’s not something many children are likely to pick up on their own, this browseable collection can be entered anywhere and will be appreciated as a read-aloud for groups or one-on-one. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-89239-172-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002


At ``Step 2'' in the useful ``Step into Reading'' series: an admirably clear, well-balanced presentation that centers on wolves' habits and pack structure. Milton also addresses their endangered status, as well as their place in fantasy, folklore, and the popular imagination. Attractive realistic watercolors on almost every page. Top-notch: concise, but remarkably extensive in its coverage. A real bargain. (Nonfiction/Easy reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-91052-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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