THE GREAT CANOE by María Elena Maggi


A Kariña Legend
adapted by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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The traditional tale of the Great Flood gets a New World setting in this interesting retelling. When Kaputano told the Kariña people they must prepare for a great rain that would flood the earth, only four couples believed him. Together, they set out to hew a canoe from a huge tree, scraping and burning out the trunk. After collecting two of each animal and seeds from each plant, they boarded the vessel. The rains came, the water in the river rose, the treetops slowly disappeared, and the world was drowned in water. When it receded, the land was a barren place where no human could live, so Kaputano created the world anew for his people. The author and illustrator traveled to the Kariña people to do their research for this native tale, and their careful research shows. Amazingly detailed scratchboard illustrations dominate the pages, with the text relegated to small light-colored spaces on the edges. In a reversal of roles, the original story was rewritten for length after the illustrations were completed. Calderón’s (Buzz, Buzz, Buzz!, p. 806, etc.) native plants and animals of the Caribbean region come to life—from the sloths hanging in the trees and the ants crawling on deck, to the bright blue butterfly that seems to hover on the surface of the page, poised to fly away. The Kariña people are portrayed in breechcloths, short skirts, and bare chests; the final illustration is especially vibrant, showing the native costumes as the people dance and sing. Although universally known in its Biblical telling, this version proves the universality of culture and story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-88899-444-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001


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