THE SUMMER MAKER: An Ojibway Indian Myth by Margery & Janet Kobrin Bernstein

THE SUMMER MAKER: An Ojibway Indian Myth

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Bernstein and Kobrin, who retold a trio of Indian origin tales in 1974, come off less well in this more pretentious picture book package. Burgess' animals--fisher, otter, beaver, lynx, and wolverine--are too crudely conceived for their fine line execution, and there's nothing remotely Indian about the style or setting; the lodge of the manitou, a powerful spirit, is furnished with rocking chairs, stools, and shelves filled with Western great books. And though the authors credit the Ojibways with the story, they cite no source for readers to compare with their lame tale of a fisher who--uncharacteristically for both fishers and Ojibways--sets off to find summer because his tearful, incompetent son can't hack the perpetual winter of their time. The other animals go along, and there is much side business with Otter, who complains all the way and who laughs at the strange looking manitou until the others have to sit on his head to keep him still. Finally they do reach a mountain top, break through a crack in the sky, and release a flock of caged birds who bring summer to earth--the likely kernel of a legend, but embedded here in too much pulp. And when the other animals return home, the fisher, oddly, remains stuck in the sky--again, a likely mythic image of an afterlife that Burgess pictures merely as a silly, unnatural suspension.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1977
Publisher: Scribners