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Fry, J.D.

Saskatoon, Thistledown Press, 1988. 55pp, paper. $7.95. ISBN 0-920633-44-7. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Mollie Hooper

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

J.D. Fry is a professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan. In his book Old Wives Lake (revised edition), he has told in verse form the story of the naming of Old Wives Lake in Saskatchewan.

Based on a Cree legend, the lyrics tell in dramatic form the story of one of their bands having come into enemy Blackfoot territory in search of the buffalo. Their camp is discovered by the Blackfoot and by nightfall they are surrounded, facing certain death at dawn. The men resolve to stay and fight, letting the women and children steal away in the darkness. However, the wise old women of the tribe come forward, offering their people a chance to survive and saying that they wish to give life to the tribe for a second time.

The story of their sacrifice is made doubly exciting by being presented as a play in verse form. The characters come alive through the simple flowing cadence of the Indian voices. It is an exciting, dramatic and moving piece of work.

The page layout is excellent, the printing clear, the paper quality very good and the whole enhanced by an intriguing cover design. Several historical maps and photographs of Plains Cree add to the interest of this little book.

The original edition was popular in Saskatchewan schools and this new edition will be used in native studies courses in Manitoba. Very adaptable for a drama class or oral reading.

Mollie Hooper, Quailcum Beach, B.C.
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