cover image The Path of the Quiet Elk: 6a Native American Alphabet Book

The Path of the Quiet Elk: 6a Native American Alphabet Book

Virginia A. Stroud. Dial Books, $14.89 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1718-3

While accompanying the tribal elder Wisdom Keeper on a woodland walk, a Native American girl named Looks Within discovers that the path they follow is ""not a place, but a way of learning to look at life."" A playful otter is ""a reminder not to worry about life, but to let it unfold""; a hummingbird hints at life's ""sweetness"" and how ""to spread it."" The journey yields souvenirs both practical (an antler for a necklace) and metaphorical (a seashell that ""will bring you rhythm, like the waves that slowly moved in and out of it""). On the path, animals, artifacts and concepts appear in alphabetical order, from Animal Helper to Zest, lending structure to this melange of wisdom without distraction. Cherokee-Creek by birth and adopted into a Kiowa family, Stroud (A Walk to the Great Mystery; Doesn't Fall Off His Horse) writes a sound, sturdy if didactic text. However, her stylized, colorful paintings--depicting faceless characters and flat perspectives--belie the very intimacy with nature that the book celebrates. For a more picturesque approach to Native American teachings, see Joseph Bruchac and Thomas Locker's Between Earth and Sky (Children's Forecasts, Apr. 15). All ages. (May)