CARVING A TOTEM POLE by Vickie Jensen

CARVING A TOTEM POLE

by & photographed by
Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In an informative, respectful, but emotionally cool work, Jensen chronicles the creation of a totem pole for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver, carved by Nisga'a artist Norman Tait. From the selection of wood to the raising of the finished piece, readers learn how a totem pole is made: by Tait, with a crew of family and friends, using old tools (an adze) and newer ones (a chain saw). The enthusiasm of these artisans is apparent, as is Tait's love for his work, expressed in his foreword: ``This book will help children understand the importance of the totem pole.'' However, neither the text nor the dark, uninviting black-and-white photographs brings readers closer to an understanding of what motivates the work: They learn that the animals carved into the pole tell a story, but not what the story is; the artistic achievement of the carving is clear, but its spiritual significance is only alluded to, and readers won't be able to fill in the details. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-3574-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996