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Lenore Keeshig-Tobias
Illustrated by Polly Keeshig-Tobias
Toronto, Sister Vision Press, 1991. 40pp, galley, $6.95, ISBN 0-920813-89-5
Distributed by the Women's Press

Kindergarten to Grade 2/Ages 5 to 7

Reviewed by Joan Skogan.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Lenore Keeshig-Tobias' the warmly told story of a native child who hears "'...where's your feathers then?!...' If you're Indian why don't you come from India?'" at school, and is strengthened by her mother's support, which includes the facts about Christopher Columbus! The text of Bird Talk is printed in both English and Ojibway, and the tone is both matter of fact and honest. The story is based on childhood experiences of Polly Keeshig-Tobias, daughter of the writer and maker of Bird Talk's simple black-and-white illustrations.

A little more care in editing would have eliminated some slightly rough spots. The first page does not immedi­ately reveal that the narrator is a child herself speaking about her sister, and the bird references are confusing at first glance: "My Momma Brown Bird had a good day," then, "I could hear Polly on the balcony calling to the birds, "Hello, brown birds. Hello. Nobody asks you where your feathers are.' ... Polly is Momma's Brown Bird Baby because she is the youngest. Momma calls me Brown Bird." Finally, while "not nice" is appropriate within Polly's dialogue describing a "cowboys and Indians game," it is not effectively used in the book's back cover plot description.

Bird Talk is recommended by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Joan Skogan, Vancouver, B.C.
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