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Joe McLellan
Illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson
Winnipeg, Pemmican Publications, 1993.
48pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-921827-23-7. CIP

Subject Headings:
Nanabush (Legendary character)-Legends.
Ojibwa Indians-Legends.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11

Reviewed by Patricia Fry

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May/June

The illustratioins in this book are wonderful--a mix of crayon, water-colour, pencil crayon, pencil and chalk pastel. Every page is awash with colour, and the careful attention to detail brings the characters to life. The tale itself has a strong plot so, all in all, it's a good choice for a read-aloud story session.

The book is dedicated to all aboriginal children, so that they will learn to protect Mother Earth. The story teaches the basic principle that we must all use our fisheries in a sustainable manner to ensure they remain for future generations. On the last page, after the story is complete, there is some information for the reader on the history and current status on the sturgeon, now described as "vulnerable" species. On one of the front pages there is a glossary of eight Ojibway phrases used in the story and their English meanings.

The story is told as a story within a story. Winona heads off to go fishing with her grandfather and cousin, leaving her brother Billy at home to do the laundry. On the way; to the fishing hole, grandfather tells the girl the story of Nanabosho and Soaring Eagle. The illustrations often blend together to depict the legend in the main picture and then trail to a sketch of Billy off to one side doing the laundry. It's a clever and visual interesting technique.

There is much gentle humour in the story, and I found the sketches whimsical and light-hearted as well. I enjoyed the many small touches such as a smiling face sketched into a tree, Billy's mother's face on a billboard advertisement for laundry soap, the otter being advised to get Nanabosho's fish as well, and a clean shirt nonchalantly hung on the living room picture, which just happened to be fish.


Patricia Fry Is a teacher-librarian with the Peel Board of Education in Mississauga, Ontario

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