cover image Song for the Ancient Forest

Song for the Ancient Forest

Nancy Luenn. Atheneum Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31719-4

High atop the ancient northwest forests, Raven, the classic trickster of fable, dreams about the devastation of his homeland. The creature pleads for a song to reverse this nightmare--``The world's spirit answered. Every song must have a singer. And each singer must find one who understands his song.'' The early people whom Raven creates ``from warm brown spring earth'' distrust the prankster and do not believe his premonitions. Later, white settlers and loggers cannot even hear his song. Finally, a girl not only hears, but convinces her father to stop logging the timeless woodland. The evil owner of the forest trees stones Raven, whose blood waters the earth and imbues all forest life with the song. In pointing up contemporary issues by way of a strained, moralistic fable, the narrative falters in its elegiac flight. Presented in an epilogue, the pivotal song's wordy lyrics may sound a flat note for many readers. However, Kastner's ( You're My Nikki ; I Want to Go Home ) strikingly textured, mood-expressive watercolors--perhaps this artist's finest work to date--make the book soar. In both spot illustrations (often set against the larger paintings) and full-spread art, these haunting scenes contrast the majesty of nature with the appurtenances of encroaching civilization. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)