PEACE DANCER by Roy Henry Vickers


From the "Northwest Coast Legends" series, volume 4
Age Range: 6 - 8
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A Tsimshian artist links a flood tale from his village to a frequently performed potlatch dance.

As in Vickers and Budd’s earlier Northwest Coast retelling, Cloudwalker (2014), richly colored woodblock-print illustrations add strong notes of mysticism and ritual to a tersely related episode. After a group of children heedlessly captures a crow and pulls out its feathers, floods cover the land and drive all the people into canoes. Their frantic prayers go unanswered until the Chief of the Heavens, seeing that the birds have no place to alight, restores peace to the land by letting the waters recede. The humbled people rebuild, renew their respect for all life, and commemorate the event forever after with a Peace Dance that is marked by shaking out eagle down for remembrance. The full-page illustrations begin with idyllic scenes of shorelines and boats, all overlaid with ghostly Northwest Coast motifs. Later, more-turbulent views of silhouetted figures amid swirling waves give way to a climactic double-page spread panorama of a restored, sunlit landscape rich in flora and distinctively stylized fauna. The story will likely be new to readers outside the culture; Vickers closes with a note on his own lineage and how he learned both the dance and the tale directly from elders.

A rare variant of a nearly universal myth, with powerfully evocative illustrations. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-55017-739-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Harbour Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2016


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