________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 21. . . .February 5, 2016


The Thundermaker.

Alan Syliboy.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover & pdf, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77108-329-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77108-330-0 (pdf).

Subject Heading:
Micmac Indians-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4



There is smoke coming from the top of a wigwam deep in the forest.

The trees are swaying a little, back and forth. The wind rises. A summer storm must be coming.

Distant thunder is rumbling. The thunder gets louder. And louder. The wind grows stronger. And stronger.

Then the ground starts to shake.


Alan Syliboy is a Mi’kmaw artist and storyteller. In his picture book, The Thundermaker, he tells the story of Big Thunder teaching his son, Little Thunder, about his important role as the maker of thunder. Little Thunder’s mother, Giju, also plays an important role in the child’s education, teaching him through her retellings of traditional stories. “You are from a long line of thundermakers,” she tells Little Thunder in her soft and comforting voice. Together, the parents prepare their son for his duties and responsibilities.

      The mixed-media illustrations consist of an interesting blend of traditional and contemporary styles. Syliboy says that his work is inspired by traditional Mi’kmaw petroglyphs. His heavily textured and boldly coloured work is eye-catching. This reviewer found the bright and vivid feel of the overall compositions particularly attractive. The colours draw the eye. Whilst the use of colour is strong, the naïve style of the illustration details—the story protagonists and the animals, for instance—will be less appealing to many readers.

      Educators looking to infuse Aboriginal content in their teaching will find The Thundermaker a worthwhile resource for their classrooms. Similarly, readers young and old with an interest in traditional Aboriginal stories will be entertained and informed by Syliboy’s work.


Professor Gregory Bryan, who specializes in literature for children, is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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