CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
Illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden Saskatoon, Fifth House Publishers, 1994. 168pp, paper, $16.95
ISBN 1-895618-39-8. Distributed by University of Toronto Press. CIP

Subject Headings:
Night-Juvenile literature.
Indians of North America-Folklore-Juvenile literature.
Natural history-Outdoor books-Juvenile literature

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13

Reviewed by Patricia Fry

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November / December

Keepers of the Night provides an integrated approach to teaching the mystery and fascination of the animals, plants, insects and planets that inhabit the world of night. Continuing the tradition established by Keepers of the Earth (Fifth House, 1989) and Keepers of the Animals¹, this newest book in the series combines traditional native stories with excellent environmental activities to teach about the Earth.

Night-time is experienced as more than a period of time between sunset and sunrise. The reader is taught the native North American concept that night is a crucial part of the balance that is the root of the harmonious workings of the universe. Like all the dualities of life--winter and summer, male and female--the night and the day complement one another and maintain the natural balance.

The book itself is an excellent teaching tool. A preface and a twenty-page section introduce techniques to use this book, covering several peripheral issues such as native philosophy, preparation for story-telling, and safety during field trips. There are five units based on the following topics: nocturnal animals, nocturnal insects and plants, astronomy and night-time weather, campfires and campsites, and the connectedness of all life. Each unit introduces its topic with a native legend, suggests areas for discussion with questions, and provides several activities that range from those with a literary focus to scientific experiments. Each activity has detailed teaching instructions with goal, age-appropriate levels, materials required, and procedure. Finally, the experience can be extended with other abbreviated activity ideas. There are also notes, which provide sources and additional factual information.

The book provides a map of native North America showing cultural areas and tribal locations as they appeared around 1600. There is also a glossary of native words, names and cultures, as well as a general index.

Fear of the dark is as old as humankind and it is understandable because, at night only the light of the stars and moon and the light of fire stand between life on Earth and utter blackness. After participating in some of the activities described in Keepers of the Night, a person would have a new appreciation of this "nearest frontier." Infused with native lore and wisdom, the stories and activities provide valuable lessons about nature and also help dispel common fears about the night-time world.

The ideas in this book would be very useful for any environmental program, especially those school activities that involve an overnight field trip to wilderness areas.

Highly recommended.

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

¹ Reviewed vol. XX/2 March 1992, p. 59.

line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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