________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 3 . . . . October 3, 1997

cover The Star Man and Other Tales.

Basil H. Johnston and George Jonas. Illustrated by Ken Syrette.
Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum, 1997 (Distributed by the University of Toronto Press).
62 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-8885-4419-7.

Subject Headings:
Ojibwa Indians-Folklore.
Tales-North America.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


A long time ago, all the animals spoke to one another. Without exception, they understood each other. They also understood the Anishinaubaeck, just as the Anishinaubaeck understood the animals. (From "What the Dog Did")
Ojibway (Anishinaubae) storyteller Basil Johnston, employed by the Royal Ontario Museum for a quarter of a century, has been charged by the ROM with recording and celebrating the Ojibway heritage, especially its language and mythology. The Star Man and Other Tales responds to that mandate by containing nine brief Ojibway tales. Four of the stories were told by Jonas George, a nineteenth century Chippewa storyteller whose narratives were recorded early in this century. Of the remaining five, a pair of stories are told by Johnston while the other three are ascribed to two other tellers but collected and translated by Johnston. Ranging in length from a single page of text to seven pages, with the norm being three, the stories' contents vary widely in content, mood, and tone, as well as accessibility to the larger Canadian readership. Some, like "Short Tail," which explains why the animals no longer fight with each other, and "What the Dog Did," which describes how the dog treacherously sided with humans and not the animals, would be fine read-to stories to younger audiences. However, because the book reproduces the storyteller's sparse style, some of the book's contents, such as "Mermaids" and "Thunderbolt," is not immediately available outside the culture in which these stories were originally told. Each of the stories is accompanied by a full-page coloured illustration, plus several black and white drawings, by Anishinaubae artist Ken Syrette.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and YA literature courses at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364