Ladder to the Sky: How the Gift of Healing Came to the Ojibway Nation: A Legend Retold

Barbara Juster Esbensen, Author, Helen K. Davie, Illustrator, George Copway, Photographer Little Brown and Company $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-24952-2
Unlike the biblical version of man's fall from grace, this legend of the Ojibway tribe's downfall ends on a more positive note. Long ago their land was connected to heaven by a magical vine, from which spirits would visit them in human form. ``Nobody was ever sick / in those days. Nobody died.'' And the spirits treat everyone equally, until one day the people notice that a spirit ``favored a certain young man'' more than was customary. In their jealousy they set out to make the young man's life miserable, and soon the spirit returns to bear his friend away up the sacred vine. When his grieving grandmother tries to follow, the vine collapses and the tribe suffers the punishment of disease and death. Although they will no longer live forever, the Ojibways are given the knowledge of herbal healing to deal with their newfound ills. Esbensen's rhythmic and powerful blank verse avoids didacticism but gets its message across: that envy, hostility, and disobedience have no place in a peaceful society. Davie's paintings combine elements of abstraction and realism that nicely complement the text. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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