CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 30. . . .April 4, 2014
Weigl Educational Publishers has expanded their Aboriginal nonfiction titles to include the “Aboriginal Legends of Canada” which provides a wealth of detailed information on Aboriginal legends and culture. There are six titles in total; Cree, Haida, Huron, Inuit, Iroquois, and Metis. The three that were offered for review are Huron, Inuit, and Metis.
Each book begins with a brief introduction on the featured Aboriginal culture. The book then explores traditional legends from that culture, highlighting the story topics of creation, nature, life lessons, and heroic tales. Each traditional legend topic is respectfully prefaced with a two page spread that references Aboriginal world views on that topic. After establishing a context for the legend’s topic, author Megan Cuthbert presents one archetypal example of that particular legend topic on another two page spread. In total, four specific legends are shared per book.
The topics and legends are presented in language that can be easily understood by children. The books do include Aboriginal terms with which children may not be familiar, but these complex terms are explained in the Key Words section at the end of each book to ensure that the text remains accessible to all readers.
The amount of text per page is well balanced with graphic elements. Colour photographs of Aboriginal people, their environment and culture, highlight the feature legend topic. In addition, colourful illustrations accompany each retelling of the legends. Each book is accompanied by an activity section where readers are prompted to create something that relates to a legend presented in the book.
Concluding each book is a dedicated section to promote “Further Resources” for learning. This section explains how to locate materials at your local library, as well as suggestions for reliable website content. These books also include an index for easy reference. The series is a fabulous resource to drawn on when teaching children how to engage with information texts.
My only major concern was the lack of information provided regarding author Megan Cuthbert. There is no author description to accompany the titles. It would have been beneficial if the books included details regarding the author, her credentials, and her relationship to Aboriginal legends. The books also do little to acknowledge that some Aboriginal stories are free for sharing while other belong to specific Aboriginal groups and require special credentials for sharing. I would have liked to see some tribute to the complexity of Aboriginal storytelling as part of Aboriginal culture.
Despite these shortcomings, I would recommend this series, both for school projects and general interest. This series acts as an excellent classroom resource to guide children learning about the basics of Aboriginal legends.
Rachel Yaroshuk is a Teen Services Librarian with Burnaby Public Library.
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