cover image The Story of the Milky Way: 2a Cherokee Tale

The Story of the Milky Way: 2a Cherokee Tale

Joseph Bruchac. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1737-4

With lyric simplicity this retelling of a Cherokee folktale posits an explanation for the origin of the Milky Way, at the same time stressing the merits of communal labor. When a great spirit dog begins to rob cornmeal belonging to an old couple, the wise Beloved Woman devises a plan for the whole village to frighten the dog away for good. Running away across the sky, the dog leaves a trail of dropped cornmeal, each grain of which becomes a star. Only in the final passage does the reader learn that the Cherokee name for the Milky Way means ``the place where the dog ran.'' Stroud's (Doesn't Fall Off His Horse) distinctive, stylized acrylics harmoniously oppose starkly delineated characters with intricately patterned backgrounds; while she renders finely detailed, flower-strewn fabrics amidst flower-strewn fields, she defines faces only by a mauve circle suggestive of a cheekbone. Framing the folktale as a story recounted by a father to his children, Bruchac (The First Strawberry) and Ross (How Turtle's Back Was Cracked) subtly underscore the role of tradition in shaping narrative. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)