CM . . . .
Volume I Number VII . . . . July 28, 1995
Keepers of Life: Discovering Plants through Native Stories and Earth Activities for Children
Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1994
265pp, cloth, $25.95
ISBN 1-895618-48-7. CIP
Indians of North America-Folklore.
Plant ecology-Study and teaching (Elementary).
Nature study-Activity programs.
Adult -- Grades 1 - 7 / Ages 6 - 12
Review by MaryLynn Gagne
This latest addition to the immensely popular "Keeper" series
focusses on our relationship with the plant kingdom. Like its
predecessors, Keepers of Life uses Native North American
myths from diverse cultural groups to introduce a variety of topics
relating to our interactions with the natural world.
The book includes
information on plant groups such as fungi and flowering plants,
explanations of biological processes such as photosynthesis and
pollination, and discussions of environmental concerns such as acid rain
and the greenhouse effect. This information-packed resource is imbued with
the spirit of "Responsible Stewardship" -- a philosophy of
empathy for all living things, and consideration of the effects of our
actions on future generations.
The guided discussions and activities which grow almost
organically out of the carefully selected "lesson stories" are at the
heart of Keepers of Life. Wonderful story illustrations by
Fadden and David Kanietakeron Fadden, and richly detailed chapter
illustrations by Marjorie C. Leggit and Carol Wood, illuminate
the text. Caduto and Bruchac present a wealth of botanical information
and fascinating tidbits in a clear and engaging manner. A very minor
quibble: a few of the recommended activities appear somewhat complicated.
Step-by-step directions notwithstanding, some classroom teachers may baulk
at the prospect of undertaking a project such as "Making Earth on
Turtle's Back" which involves construction of a plywood and chicken-wire
turtle shell base covered with painted papier-mâché "landforms."
In the introduction to Keepers of Life, and in
the "Tips and Techniques" section, the authors provide valuable background
on Native knowledge of plants, the multitudinous uses of plants by Native
North Americans, and on the attitude of respect for all life forms
pervasive in traditional Native culture. Teachers and group leaders will
appreciate the numerous and perceptive hints on bringing the stories to
life, involving children in the storytelling process, and planning and
adapting the suggested activities. Detailed "how-to" instructions are
provided for everything from correct breathing techniques to proper
procedures for planting trees and shrubs. A separate teacher's guide is
available for this title; the book alone certainly affords more than
Highly recommended for adults, and for use with children
ages 5 to 12.
MaryLynn Gagne is a reference librarian in the Education Library,
University of Saskatchewan Libraries.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
The Manitoba Library Association
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