cover image Fox Song

Fox Song

Joseph Bruchac. Philomel Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22346-4

In this tale of the sweet and vital bond between Native American great-grandparents and children, Bruchac, a well-known storyteller with Abenaki roots, offers a glimpse into traditional ways through the experience of Jamie, an Abenaki girl who lives near Vermont's Winooski river. One morning, Jamie resists waking and clings to fitful dreams in which she is reunited with her dead great-grandmother. Bruchac's clever device unifies various memories of Grama Bowman: she has taught Jamie to collect berries and to care for the patch (``burn off the dead bushes each year so that new ones will be green''), to peel bark from birch trees to fashion baskets, to follow wildlife signs in the winter woods, to sip maple sap. Primary to this story is the poignancy of lessons whose meanings ripen only with time. The aging woman lovingly and unobtrusively prepares her great-granddaughter for their inevitable separation, telling Jamie that when she sees the fox she will think of Grama Bowman. A delicate secondary theme is the unusual parental sympathy for Jamie's lazy morning--her mother and father understand the healing power of dreams. Through an appropriately autumnal palette, Morin's oil paintings on canvas echo the texture of Abenaki artifacts: birch bark and sticks, leather, carved bone, drying leaves. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)