cover image Brother Eagle, Sister Sky

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky

Susan Jeffers, Seattle, Seattle Chief. Dial Books, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0969-0

With Native American themes currently in vogue, and environmental awareness a hot issue, this timely picture book scores perfect marks in both arenas. The story is an adaptation of a speech delivered by Chief Seattle at treaty negotiations in the 1850s. Like other great speeches that have stood the test of time, his remarkably relevant message has endured because it comes from the heart and is imbued with passion--here, passion born of love for the land--``This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us. / We did not weave the web of life, / We are merely a strand in it. / Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.'' Jeffers has paired Seattle's eloquence with her dreamy, meticulous illustrations and the resulting images are haunting. First, readers see Native Americans living in harmony with nature, but gradually the images grow bleaker--ugly swaths of land stripped of their timber. The story comes full circle as a Caucasian family plants new trees on the barren land in a gesture that signifies hope and renewal. Together, Seattle's words and Jeffers's images create a powerful message; this thoughtful book deserves to be pondered and cherished by all. All ages. (Sept.)