CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 19 . . . . May 11, 2007
Nanabosho & Porcupine is the latest in the series of Nanabosho titles produced by Pemmican Publications. Joe and Matrine McLellan again demonstrate their lively sense of humour, and their humour is here enhanced by Ryan Gorrie’s playful illustrations.
As with other Nanabosho books, this one is presented as a story told within a story. A young girl, Nonie, is working with her grandmother, crafting porcupine quill designs. Nokomis sees it as the ideal time to tell her granddaughter a story. At the heart of Nanabosho & Porcupine is a pourquoi tale—a story that provides an explanation as to why things are the way that they are. In this case, we learn why it is that porcupines have quills. If we are to believe the McLellans, porcupines once looked like small, grey guinea pigs, soft and furry and, judging by Gorrie’s illustrations, rather cute and cuddly too. When little Porcupine wants to play with Nanabosho, the porcupine is dismissed as being too small. “You don’t know how to play my games,” Nanabosho complains. “You get in the way and spoil all of the fun, and you get hurt and cry all the time.”
Although the writing occasionally misses the mark, the playful, tongue-in-cheek text provides a fun read. Little Porcupine is an endearing creature, and, when he eventually learns some humility, Nanabosho emerges as a sweet and caring character. Gorrie’s illustrations have a unique feel to them. Young readers will be attracted to the lavish blues and greens that dominate much of the artwork.
I recommend Nanabosho & Porcupine for those with an interest in First Nation legends.
Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba where he teaches children’s literature and literacy education courses.
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