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Sean Ferris.
Windsor, ON: Black Moss Press, 1985.
84pp., paper, $10.95.
ISBN 0-88753-128-8. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Cree Indians-Poetry.
Children's writings.
Child artists.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Barbara Egerer Walker.

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

The Métis and Cree children of Moose Factory and Moosonee in northern Ontario are the poets, writers, philosophers, and artists of this often haunting pictoral account of life in the Great Muskeg; the sub-arctic settlements comprised of bush, and expanses of tamaracks, spruce, wildlife, and water that is home to these children.

Vivid experiences of the North are illustrated through black-and-white drawings as well as colour plates positioned midway through the text. No aspect of life in the Great Muskeg is left uncovered. There is bleakness and insight in the writings from these young people: we experience their intense hardships. "It would be better if . . . we weren't poor; the people didn't drink that lots; they made a new community hall." Not all is oppressive, although the cold, poverty, drunkenness, and hope for a better life are repeated often in the poetry. The way of life is clearly depicted, skidooing, trapping, hunting, fishing, canoeing; and the everpresent wildlife, Canada Geese, moose, bears, fish. Some poems make one feel like an intruder as the children are so honest and blunt about life. "I struggle to get along with my brother and clean up the house, but most of all I struggle to live." The ages of the children are not given, but the poetry is both mature and naive at times. The drawings are filled with detail whether the picture is of a hunter, a Canada goose, or the raw constructed buildings of the area.

Sean Ferris has put together a beautiful work of images, "powerful images of a world where the people and the earth are one mind and where the children of the Great Muskeg hunt down their visions and voices and make art that lives." He has produced a poetry book with a message that is both subtle and powerful at the same time. Although this book was written by and for children, it can also be appreciated by the adult reader.

Barbara Egerer Walker, Etobicoke P.L., Etobicoke, ON.
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