cover image The Legend of the Lady Slipper

The Legend of the Lady Slipper

Margi Preus, Lise Lunge-Larsen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-90512-8

In their appealing first book, the authors offer a smooth retelling of an Ojibwe tale, weaving a number of melodic foreign words into their narrative. At the center of the legend, which explains the origin of the ma-ki-sin waa-big-waan, or lady slipper flower, is a courageous girl who braves a fierce snowstorm to cure her ailing family and fellow villagers. Wearing deerskin moccasins, she walks all day until she reaches the wigwams of the people who have healing herbs. Worried that the illness at home may be worsening, she insists on setting back immediately and loses her moccasins in the deep snow; still she trudges on, leaving bloody footprints on the white ground. Her valiant efforts save the village and, when the snow melts, she and her beloved brother find lovely, moccasin-shaped blooms in place of her bloody tracks. In Arroyo's (In Rosa's Mexico) stylized watercolors, similar to Stefano Vitale's artwork, the warm hues of the heroine's native dress and moccasins, as well as of the elegant lady slippers, pop from a cool palette dominated by nature's blues and greens. An unusual simplicity and fluidity mark both text and art in this ideal choice for a springtime read-aloud. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)