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Jonker, Peter.

Edmonton, Lone Pine Publishing, 1988. 220pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-919433-54-5. CIP

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up
Reviewed by Sharon A. McLennan McCue

Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May

The book's opening focuses on an Indian mother's fear for the life of her sick baby and her desperate call for help from the medicine man. The dramatic cure the medicine man advises is taking the nude baby out into the winter night to be healed by the wind. The wind not only saves the child's life but also gives the child his true name and becomes a source of strength for him throughout his life.

The early chapters deal with the anguish of Sitting Wind's grandmother at having to send her four-year-old grandson to a residential school far removed from the bush camp in which she is living. By the time he leaves the school his grandmother and adopted grandfather see that he has no understanding of how to live on the land in the way of his ancestors. So they undertake to ensure that his "white man's education" is matched by a Stoney education. These two kinds of education direct his life's role as a man who can survive in both worlds.

It is unfortunate that the biographer seems unable to follow through with the promising set-up of the first half of the book. In the second half of the book the reader is raced through the highlights of Sitting Wind's life from the age of twenty-five to the present. In the hands of a more skilled writer this could still be interesting, but I got the feeling that Jonker just wanted to get it over with.

Jonker's liberal use of dialogue makes this biography read more like a novel than a work of non-fiction. For this reason, it might be popular with pre-teen and young adult readers. Adult readers would be interested in the changes that have taken place during the sixty-five years of Sitting Wind's life.

Parts of The Song and the Silence, particularly the early parts, could be used effectively in a class studying either biographies or native people. It would be a worthwhile purchase for any library with a native audience or a specifically native collection.

Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.
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