In a Circle Long Ago: A Treasury of Native Lore from North America: Native American; ALA Notable Book

Nancy Van Laan, Author, Lisa Desimini, Illustrator Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $22 (128p) ISBN 978-0-679-85807-2
This attractive volume gathers together 25 songs and stories from Native American tribes all over North America. Taking a spiral path through the continent, Van Laan (Rainbow Crow) begins with the Inuit peoples of the Arctic; moves to the Ojibwa, Slavey and Beaver of the Subarctic; and continues through five additional cultural regions before ending with the tribes of the Great Plains. Familiar folktale creatures such as Rabbit, Coyote and Fox feature prominently; the seasons and weather also predominate, underlining a deep respect for the natural environment-``Perhaps,'' Van Laan writes in her unusually reflective introduction, ``[children] will come to understand the native peoples' belief that a person is no more important than a beaver or a pine tree or a body of water.'' Her animated narration makes it easy to recall that these are oral histories, legends that are meant to be shared aloud. Desimini's (My House) artwork is especially effective; she uses a wide combination of styles, textures and media to celebrate the variety of tribes represented here. From dazzling oils depicting a near-scarlet fox against an azure sea, to the earth tones that suggest cave paintings, her illustrations may bear out Van Laan's hope that readers will ``see dancing and hear singing.'' Ages 3-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995
Release date: 09/01/1995
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 128 pages - 978-0-679-95807-9
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