Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SHINGEBISS by Nancy van Laan

SHINGEBISS

An Ojibwe Legend

By Nancy van Laan (Adaptor) , Betsy Bowen (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-82745-0
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

 Van Laan (La Boda, 1996, etc.) goes to the way back time, when Shingebiss, a resourceful merganser duck, presents a challenge to Kabibona'kan, Winter Maker, who does not want him to be able to withstand the harsh winter. Winter Maker does everything in his power to thwart Shingebiss's efforts to catch fish--he freezes the waters of Great Lake Superior ``as solid as stone.'' Knowing that the clever duck has only four logs to last the winter, Kabibona'kan is certain he can blow drifts deep enough to freeze the bird. But the theme of the small overcoming the mighty prevails, for the tiny hero can be neither frozen nor starved. According to Ojibwe legend, Shingebiss has ever since served as a reminder of perseverence and fortitude. Bowen's labor-intensive, painstaking process of carving and inking woodblocks in stages produces an effective primitive style that evokes contrasts of the northern wilderness clime: The warm umbers of Shingebiss's wigwam home are carefully collated with the chilling blues and icy whites of the scenes where the appropriately scary Winter Maker is at work. Hand-lettered text is framed in borders inspired by the shape of Ojibwe ricing baskets, adding a rustic lure to the lore. (Picture book. 4-8)