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Bears Make Rock Soup: And Other Stories Hardcover – July 26, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time author Erdrich creates 14 short, myth-like tales to accompany each of fine artist Fifield's paintings, which dominate this volume dedicated to traditional tribal life. Both underscore the Native American ideal of humans and animals living in peace. The narrative is at its best when it plays off the paintings. Two successive standout tales, for instance, demonstrate the give-and-take between humanity and the natural world. "The Abandoned Yearling" tells of a young moose, rejected by his mother, who is fed and sheltered by a Native woman; Fifield's painting, gently tinted in sand and sable hues, shows Native mothers and children standing quietly among moose mothers and their babies, literally opening their tipi to the yearling moose. The painting resembles a tapestry; all the figures weigh in equally, the humans neither more nor less prominent than the other creatures. In the story that follows, "Grandfather Moose," the yearling, now an elder, returns to give the woman who helped him a gift a "moose track" pattern for a magnificent robe she and the other women are making for him. Not all of the tales dovetail as fluidly as these, but Fifield's paintings alone will repay many viewings, and readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for the possibilities of cooperation between humankind and nature. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-A collection of short stories written by an Ojibway-German author to accompany paintings by an Oneida-German artist. The tales are brief, each purporting to celebrate a vision of people and animals sharing and helping one another. They tell of wonders and transformations, but a narrative arc is mostly nonexistent and the tone is matter of fact and slightly flat. A bear has fallen asleep on a crow's nest and is coaxed down with a bowl of berry soup. A yearling moose has been abandoned by his mother; human women warm him, feed him, and explain the facts of growing up and going out on his own. The story ends, as many do, anticlimactically: "Other young moose called to him, `Join us! Join us!' And he did." The stylized watercolors carry the narratives, which are ever-so-slightly dull. Lessons are small and obvious; the human-animal connection can be strained, but there is a low-keyed gentleness of spirit that is endearing and almost mesmerizing, like a drone or a chant. The book would not add to a myth or fairy-tale collection; perhaps it should be considered instead as a modern interpretation by two Native American women of heritages they clearly value and respect.
Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Children's Book Press (July 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892391723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892391721
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 10.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Bears Make Soup and Other Stories" might seem like a collection of ancient Native American stories but this is actually a rather unique collection of new tales reflecting the time when people and animals spoke to each other in dreams. Artist Lisa Fifield, a watercolorist and quilt maker enrolled in the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, created 14 paintings focusing on animals that still live on the plains and in the woodlands of North America, such as black bears, deer, moose, loons, and crows. Then writer Lisa Erdrich, who is enrolled in the Turlte Mountain Band of Plains Ojibway wrote stories to bring the pictures to life. The stories are organized by animals, so that you start with several stories about bears, including "The Bears that Couldn't Hibernate" nd the title story, then move on to the other species of animals. The points made by the stories are usually subtle, and reflect the sense of harmony between living things as much as anything else. The stories show animals and people teaching and learning from one another, as well as helping each other in times of need. I can see a teacher showing a class one of these paintings, such as The Naming Ceremony or Forest of the Deer Spirits, and having students come up with their own stories before sharing the one with the book. It would interesting to see if the students would catch on to the spirit of these stories if they did this a few time and became better able to anticipate what Erdich came up with from Fifield's artwork. "Bears Make Rock Soup and Other Stories" is a simple but elegant collection of stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Bears Make Rock Soup And Other Stories is a highly recommended children's picture book of original tales written by Lise Erdrich (a member of the Turtle Mountain and of Plains Ojibway) and illustrated with paintings by water colorist Lisa Fifield (member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin). The distinctive and colorful art wonderfully complements the brief, unique, fairytale-like narratives of creatures of the earth and sky.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My grandson loves to hear stories about himself and Lise Erdrich has captured that magic of making many see the truth in these old stories. Our heritage may not be French, Owjibe, nor African but these old stories are about humans and connect the world. This book has wonderful pictures and the words strung together by this author, even if she says she does not write poetry, have lessons that young people are learning every day but just can't quite articulate. A book that will be treasured always.
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