Friday, February 03, 2006

Multi-Cultural Book

The Messenger of Spring
Written and Illustrated by C.J Taylor

This story is a retelling of the Chippewa legend "Ice Man and the Messenger of Springtime", about how winter turns to spring. Ice man is old and tired of making snow and ice when he is visited by a young New Dawn who melts the snow and ice as he walks. When he sings the earth becomes warmer and brighter and when he dances the animals wake from their winter sleep.

The author, as stated clearly on the back of the book, is a Mohawk author and artist who is renowned for her interpretations of Native legends in her books and paintings. I mentioned in my multi-cultural book assignment that to me this qualifies her to deal with the subject and I thought gave the book more credibility than if she was not First Nations herself.

The story is a legend and the people are depicted in a traditional or historic content in what they wear (the men are illustrated with long flowing hair, bare chested, wearing tanned leather, and moccasins), and in thier roles (men are hunters and women are gatherers). Although this fits with the story there is a danger of marginalizing First Nations people as "savages" or "uncivilized".

I would definitely use this book in my classroom as an accurate example of a First Nations legend, but I would be sure to balance it out with books that give examples of First Nations people in a contemporary setting, so my students don't always see them in a traditional or historic role


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