cover image Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

Gerald McDermott. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-265661-4

McDermott's crisply elegant version of a traditional Native American tale resounds with lyrical prose and the stylization of myth. The illustrations, in striking contrasts, echo the central theme of the birth of the sun by visually leading readers from darkness into light--McDermott adroitly juxtaposes a blurred backdrop of mist-drenched landscape against the sharp, bright colors of Raven himself and the glowing interior of the Sky Chief's domicile. Raven's sadness at seeing men and women living ``in the dark and cold,'' without the warmth of the sun leads him to search out light. The trickster sets his plan in motion by being reborn as son to the Sky Chief's daughter. The doting grandfather, wanting the boy to be happy, commands that Raven-child be given an effulgent ball that he discovers in a shimmering box. With this orb--the sun--firmly in his grasp, the cunning creature changes back into a bird and soars off; whereupon ``Raven threw the sun high in the sky, and it stayed there.'' With this masterfully executed reworking, McDermott adds to the folktale bookshelf a work in the grand tradition. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)