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THE RANGE ETERNAL by Louise Erdrich Kirkus Star


by Louise Erdrich & illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7868-0220-0
Publisher: Hyperion

Erdrich (Birchbark House, 1999, etc.) draws multiple meanings from the title in a poetic reminiscence founded on childhood memories. First, there’s an actual wood-burning, cast-iron stove with “Range Eternal” embossed on its oven door, at which the narrator’s mother used to stand. Then, while remembering how its warmth used to keep the wintry Windigo at bay on cold nights, the narrator recalls peering into its firebox, and being carried away on its flames and smoke: “I saw the range of the buffalo . . . I ran the deer range. I ran the bear range . . . I flew the sky, the range of herons, of cranes, hawks, and eagles. I saw the Range Eternal.” Using billows of soft, subtly nuanced color, Johnson and Fancher (New York’s Bravest, p. 961, etc.) not only evoke those transformative dreams, but also capture a sense of how that stove formed a focal point in the lives of that child and her isolated family. Now an adult, the writer misses something in her life, until a chance glimpse into an antique shop allows her to regain the Range Eternal, in both literal and figurative senses. The metaphor may have more meaning for adults, but children too will be captivated by the lyrical art and prose. (Picture book. 7-9)