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Anne Cameron
Illustrated by Gaye Hammond
Madeira Park (B.C.), Harbour Publish­ing, 1991. 29pp, paper, ISBN 1-55017-037-6. CIP

Grades 4 and up/Ages 9 and up

Reviewed by Anne Kelly.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Raven and Snipe is a traditional legend from the northwest coast native people of British Columbia. It tells the story of Raven - a lazy glutton who prefers trickery to hard work to obtain food - and Snipe, who outwits her.

The language used to retell this legend is plain and simple, yet reflects the love of both words and (he story that Anne Cameron obviously feels. The description of Raven eating - gluttonous Raven who gobbled, belched, slobbered, drooled, and "did everything except get her feet in the meal" - is vivid and funny without being flowery.

The story unfolds slowly and with great detail, allowing the reader to realize the trick even as Raven does not, and to laugh along with the Snipe family at greedy, lazy Raven.

Gaye Hammond's black-and-white illustrations complement the text, sharing with it simplicity and the love of the story. A word of caution, however. Although Harbour Publishing claims that the legends are suitable for "every­one aged 6 to adult," the material is not appropriate for the younger children. The scenes in which Raven flies through the fire and beats herself on the leg with the "biggest, heaviest, sharpest" rock that Snipe could find are scary. Most children lack a sense of poetic justice, and cannot see that Raven has brought this trickery upon herself. Indeed, a story in which characters laugh openly at another's pain - no matter how deserving - may be upsetting to readers of any age.

Overall, Raven and Snipe is a good story. Anne Cameron's voice is gentle and loving; it will be a good introduc­tion for many children into the un­known world of Indian legend.

Anne Kelly, Dartmouth, N.S.
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