Echoes of the Elders
This elegant compendium showcases five traditional legends of the Kwakiutl people, one of the Northwest Coast Peoples. Researched and retold by Chief Lelooska (who was adopted by the Kwakiutl by formal potlatch ceremony), these tales of magic transport readers to the mythical realm where the human and spirit worlds mingle. Each selection imparts a teaching: in ""The Old Owl Witch"" disobedient children are turned into mice; the homely ""Beaver Face"" outwits the evil Timber Giant and saves her village's children; and ""The Boy and the Loon"" teaches tolerance when a Loon returns the kindness a boy (and would-be chief) showed to him. Lelooska's colorful retellings flow effortlessly (""Once there was a beautiful village. Trees towered into the sky behind it""), and his dramatic full-page and double-spread paintings resemble woodcuts, with images of totem-like figures, masks, and animals. Lelooska began this project as a charge from the elders (""Don't take these stories to the grave with you"") and the weighty book is worthy of its mission: printed on heavy stock in an elegant typeface that's sprinkled with tiny symbols of the coastal tribes (starfish, dragonflies, fish, crabs, shells), it is as lovely to look at and touch as it is to read. Like Chief Lelooska, children will want to return to this fine tribute to the Kwakiutl again and again. All ages. (Oct.) FYI: An audio CD of Chief Lelooska (recently deceased) telling these stories, to the accompaniment of traditional chants and native drums, is packaged in a pocket of the book's endpapers.