cover image Flying W/Eagle Racing Great Bear

Flying W/Eagle Racing Great Bear

Joseph Bruchac, Bruchac. Troll Communications, $13.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-3026-1

In Native American cultures the passage of a boy into manhood is a highly significant event marked by a variety of rituals. ``One powerful way in which the meanings of this transition have been taught for thousands of years is through traditional stories,'' remarks storyteller/author Bruchac in the introduction to this selection of coming-of-age tales (see also Bruchac's Fox Song , reviewed above). Organized according to the region of North America from which they originate, these brief fables have the moral structure and pungent immediacy found in the more widely known European folktales. In the title story, from the Iroquois, Swift Runner--a small, underestimated boy--becomes a man when he hunts and kills a bear that has murdered members of his tribe. A Caddo story, ``The Wild Boy,'' links the origin of thunder and lightning to two brothers' quest. Ignored by his father, the Pueblo hero of ``The Bear Boy'' is raised alongside a mother bear's cubs. Words and phrases from various Native American languages liberally stud the well-cadenced text, enhancing the already authentic atmosphere. Ages 10-13. (Sept.)