CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 7 . . . . November 24, 2006
It is through the perspective of Malian, a young Abenaki girl who lives in a village near Montreal in the mid-18th century, that readers learn about a tragic conflict in North American history. Written by Marge Bruchac, an Abenaki historian, Malian’s Song informs readers about an event in Abenaki history that has been passed down through oral tradition by women elders. The story recognizes the importance and value of the oral traditions of Aboriginal culture. A mixture of English and Abenaki enriches the text without distracting from the understanding and flow of the story. William Maughan’s illustrations are rich in colour and evoke the mood of the story’s settings through the use of sunlight, moonlight and firelight. The depiction of the Abenaki people portrays the influence of their Aboriginal heritage, as well as that of the French and English contact. The haunting image of a Catholic priest provides the crux of a grief shared across cultures.
Malian’s Song, a work of historical fiction in picture book format, centers on an important, but neglected, tragedy in North American history. The explanation at the end of this fictional story explains the context of the Roger’s Raid on the St. Francis Abenaki on October 4th, 1759, by British troops and Mohican Indians. Robert Roger’s journal has since proved inaccurate, as 32 Abenaki died, with most of them being women and children while half of Roger’s men (43 Rangers) died during their retreat. This background information is useful in examining multiple perspectives and the possible inaccuracy of historical journals, resources which we too often rely upon as factual representations of historical events. This book provides upper elementary to young adult readers with a sensitive view of a tragic historical event.
Fern Reirson is a teacher-librarian in Edmonton, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.