cover image Gluskabe and the Four Wishes: 7

Gluskabe and the Four Wishes: 7

Joseph Bruchac. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-65164-2

Bruchac (Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back) combines several sources in telling this traditional Native American ``teaching story.'' After making an arduous journey to visit Gluskabe, the Great Spirit's helper, four men are each granted a wish. Gluskabe gives each man a pouch, saying that it contains his heart's desire, but warns them not to open the pouches until they return home. The poor man who wishes for many possessions opens his sack while canoeing home, and so many things pour out of it that he drowns under their weight.The vain man who wishes to be taller is turned into a gigantic pine tree, and the fearful man who wants to live forever becomes a boulder. But the fourth man, a hunter who wishes only to be able to feed his people, waits to open his pouch, and receives ``great understanding'' of the animals. Plainly told yet suspenseful, the story breathes an easy authenticity. First-time illustrator Shrader's atmospheric if slightly muddy paintings convey some of the drama, but the exaggerated expressions of her characters undercut the conviction of Bruchac's narrative voice. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)