Turtle Island: Tales of the Algonquian Nations

Jane Louise Curry, Retold by, Jane Louise Curry, Author, James Watts, Illustrator Margaret K. McElderry Books $17 (160p) ISBN 978-0-689-82233-9
Curry (Back in the Beforetime) retells 27 Algonquian creation, pourquoi and trickster tales in this well-rounded collection. Each conveys an underlying respect for all creatures and their interconnectedness, a belief held by various Algonquian nations, including the Blackfoot, Shawnee and Pequot tribes. Another recurring theme, that in the past all beings possessed a mystical ability to change shapes, comes through in the title story: when a flood destroys the world, an enormous ancient turtle rescues Nanabush (a manito or spirit) and all the surviving animals from the tallest tree; he creates the ""Second World"" atop his enormous shell. (""That is why the Lenap call this earth they live on Turtle Island. And when the earth quakes, they say, it is the Great Turtle, moving in his sleep."") Other tales offer insight into the nations' governing practices, as in ""Why Blackfeet Never Kill Mice,"" when a human chief helps settle an argument between the animal and bird council with a battle of wits. The closing ""Glooskap's Farewell Gifts"" explores the relationship between man and God (Glooskap). Brief information about each tribe's history and storytelling traditions follows in an afterword. While humor infuses many of the tales, the cartoonish black-and-white illustrations, unfortunately, take the characters a bit too lightly, echoing 1940s movie characterizations of the Algonquians. Ages 8-12. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
Genre: Children's
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