cover image Rabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace

Rabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace

Deborah L. Duvall, , illus. by Murv Jacob. . Univ. of New Mexico, $19.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8263-4723-7

Based on the raven's prominent role in Cherokee legend, this original fable, tinged with creepy details, joins the collaborators' long-running series starring Ji-Stu the trickster rabbit. Wearing a necklace that he found while digging for onions, Ji-Stu joins a flock of ravens who try to trade him some blue-green rocks for the necklace. After he refuses, he learns that it is made from human finger bones—and that the ravens won't give up easily (a frightened Ji-Stu later surrenders the necklace). The next day, however, the rabbit feels emboldened and decides to retrieve it, accompanied by Little Raven, “the wisest of all the forest creatures.” During their journey, the raven shares a lengthy, somewhat anticlimactic history of the bone necklace, which brings the story's action to a halt. When the ravens laud Ji-Stu's arrival, he decides to leave well enough alone (their home is surrounded by skulls and bones, after all). Jacob's artwork features vivid skies and lush forest scenes, and his animals possess a totemic quality that gels with the folkloric aims of the story. But the book's message is elusive. Ages 6–up. (Nov.)