HOW THE BIRCH TREE GOT ITS STRIPES: A CREE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
Illustrated by George Littlechild and translated and edited by Freda Ahenakew. Saskatoon, Fifth House, 1988. 32pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-920079-38.5 CIP
Illustrated by George Littlechild and translated and edited by Freda Ahenakew. Saskatoon, Fifth House, 1988. 32pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-920079-40-7. CIP
Volume 17 Number 3
These traditional Cree legends are given a powerful visual punch with the colourful illustrations by George Littlechild. The sparse text, usually two to three lines on the left page, is complemented by a vivid full-page drawing on the right side. The brilliant colours and the apparent simplicity of the drawings appeal very much to children. These same qualities also heighten the success of a read-aloud session using these books.
So how did the mouse get brown teeth? Can you guess? Can you write your own story? In my classroom, we went as far as the guessing stage before reading the legend aloud, together, to learn the Cree version. These books can be enjoyed on several levels. First of all, they can simply be read aloud because they are good stories beautifully illustrated. Secondly, they can be used to inspire students to write and illustrate their own legends about the same or different natural phenomena. Finally, they can complement a unit of study on North American Indians.
Both these traditional stories were written by students during an intermediate Cree course at Saskatoon and were originally published as part of a collection of Cree legends (Washahikanowiyiniw- acimowina /Stories of the House People) (University of Manitoba Press, 1985)). Because these are traditional stories, which are collectively owned by the Cree, the royalties from the sale of these books go to the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute.
Patricia Fry, Mississauga, Ont.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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