cover image The Windigo's Return: A North Woods Story

The Windigo's Return: A North Woods Story

Douglas Wood. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80065-8

When members of the Ojibwe tribe begin to disappear mysteriously, the white-hairs, or elders, believe that a fearsome Windigo is to blame. But they are stumped about how to vanquish a shape-shifting giant, until a small girl suggests a plan. Not only does the resolution take care of the Windigo, but the curse of the Windigo also provides an explanation for why mosquitoes bite. Wood (Old Turtle) spins a taut and suspenseful tale, and deftly establishes cultural context by incorporating evocative Ojibwe names and phrases. Couch's (The Man-in-the-Moon in Love) stylized, complexly textured illustrations in acrylic and colored pencil create a dense atmosphere, taking readers to another time and place. The gnarled, craggy faces of the elders resemble wooden masks; the pictures' burnished tones and murky shadows add a mysterious, sometimes sinister edge to the legend. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)