How Raven Got His Crooked Nose: An Alaskan Dena’ina Fable

Barbara J. Atwater and Ethan J. Atwater, illus. by Mindy Dwyer. Graphic Arts, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5132-6095-2
In a visually striking yet rather muddied retelling of a native Alaskan myth, a grandmother recites a story to her granddaughter about Chulyen, or Raven, to demonstrate how “it is always best to take our time and do things right.” Working in graphic novel–style panels, Dwyer introduces Chulyen, who is boldly depicted with patterned black and purple plumage and lime-green eyes. After losing his beak in an unidentified accident, the bird fastens on a replacement beak made from white bark and goes to find his old one (“When he really thought about it, Chulyen did know where his nose was”). An elderly woman has found it on the shore and is using it as a household tool. In an especially surreal interlude, Raven changes himself into humanesque form, standing on long, black legs and wearing a feathery blue-black beard. Stealing into the woman’s home, he finds his beak, but “because of his rush, he jammed it back on without care,” causing it to be forever crooked. Dwyer’s use of strong contrasting colors brings a fresh, modern sensibility to this tale, while patterns and motifs are suggestive of traditional Dena’ina art. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Children's
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