CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 12 . . . . November 18, 2011
Presented in three languages, Haida, English and French, the picture book retells an oral tale that is reflected in the Two Brothers Totem Pole erected in Jasper National Park in 2011. The illustrators of the book, two brothers, are also the carvers of the Totem Pole that replaced the 94 year old Raven Totem Pole. The two brothers leave Haida Gwaii to journey into the unknown, and, while they encounter much beauty in the landscapes, there are many hardships. Finally, they safely arrive in a place beyond the mountains. One brother stays while the other one returns home. After many years, this second brother retraces his journey to find his brother, but, instead, he finds his brother’s legacy.
The Two Brothers is a very simply told story accompanied by full page expressive cartoon like brightly coloured and humourous illustrations. The story elements of the Two Brothers Totem Pole are identified for readers in English and French. For some reason, these are the only two languages used in the notes regarding Parks Canada, Jasper National Park, the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, the illustrators and author, and a brief source note regarding the traditional story. It does not, of course, point to the controversy of placing a perhaps inappropriate cultural icon in a territory that did not include totem poles. The book, commissioned by Parks Canada, leaves all controversy alone. The Two Brothers is recommended for all libraries because of the historical and cultural significance of the Two Brothers Totem Pole and Parks Canada.
Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of nine books on storytelling and folklore.
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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.