Kirkus Reviews QR Code


The Lakota Way

by S.D. Nelson & illustrated by S.D. Nelson

Pub Date: June 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9845041-6-9
Publisher: South Dakota State Historical Society Press

Past and present meet in a hymn to the Lakota Circle of Life.

Contemporary Lakota kids board a school bus at daybreak while "Father Sun gives warmth to Mother Earth. / Meadowlark sings her song as swallows fly above." The day, with its crickets and dragonflies, whispering winds and rainbows, unfolds and circles toward evening and the rising of Sister Moon. Lines of text arc across scenic renderings of earth and sky in double-page spreads filled with figures based on ledger-books drawings and geometric patterns adapted from bead- and quillwork. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, skillfully melds modern and traditional images of people in lush acrylics painted on textured paper. Interspersing the story are songs in the Lakota language, placed alongside English translations. These lovely bits of verse ("At dawn / may I roam / against the winds / may I roam") accompanied by colorful depictions of the ancestors singing and drumming in a circle enhance the connection between generations. The author spells out the philosophy of the Circle of Life in an introduction that is both a celebration of the Lakota Way for those attuned to it and an explanation for those outside of this tradition.

A serene, joyous appreciation of our place in the natural world.

(author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)