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Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest Hardcover – April 30, 1993

47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McDermott's crisply elegant version of a traditional Native American tale resounds with lyrical prose and the stylization of myth. The illustrations, in striking contrasts, echo the central theme of the birth of the sun by visually leading readers from darkness into light--McDermott adroitly juxtaposes a blurred backdrop of mist-drenched landscape against the sharp, bright colors of Raven himself and the glowing interior of the Sky Chief's domicile. Raven's sadness at seeing men and women living "in the dark and cold," without the warmth of the sun leads him to search out light. The trickster sets his plan in motion by being reborn as son to the Sky Chief's daughter. The doting grandfather, wanting the boy to be happy, commands that Raven-child be given an effulgent ball that he discovers in a shimmering box. With this orb--the sun--firmly in his grasp, the cunning creature changes back into a bird and soars off; whereupon "Raven threw the sun high in the sky, and it stayed there." With this masterfully executed reworking, McDermott adds to the folktale bookshelf a work in the grand tradition. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1 Up-- All the world is in darkness at the beginning of this traditional tale from the Indian cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Raven feels sorry for the people living in the gloomy cold, so he flies to the house of the Sky Chief in search of light and warmth. To get inside, Raven pulls a shape-shifting trick that allows him to be born to the god's daughter. As a spoiled and comic infant, Raven demands and gets the shiny ball that the gods have hidden away. The art and text capture the spirit of the Native American trickster hero; benevolent, clever, magical, unscrupulous, and ultimately triumphant, Raven acts out human virtues and foibles on a cosmic scale. The mixed-media illustrations contrast the foggy cold of the Northwest Coast with the cozy interior of a native plank house. Traditional dress, furnishings, and house construction are clearly depicted, as are the tender and indulgent emotions of the Sky Chief and his family. As Raven shape-shifts through the story, visual and verbal clues let children see that his essential nature remains intact. The book invites comparisons with other trickster heroes like Africa's Anansi and the Native American Coyote, as well as with stories of fire bringers like Prometheus. The physical environment, oral literature, and traditional life of the Pacific Coast Indians come alive in this amusing and well-conceived picture book. --Carolyn Polese, Gateway Community School, Arcata, CA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 380L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Book
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1st edition (April 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152656618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152656614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 11.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jenifer K on January 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The children in my Pre-K class cannot get enough of this book. The magic of the illustrations and the text has them mesmerized. Many times, when we have finished reading the story, they want to here it again!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book on a whim for my daughter, as I am a
great fan of Native American mythology and beliefs. I
got it after a short wait, and looked through it.

The artwork is simply amazing; beatiful, detailed pictures
accompany each portion of the story.. Even the surprised
looks on the faces of people as Raven plays his trickster
games is done magnificently!

The story itself is well written. It's the basic and ancient
legend of how Raven stole the sun, but done very well, in
language that even young kids can understand. It's a fun
story to read, too, since you can make the book come alive
by adding a few of your own choice sound effects, and just
watch the look on your son or daughter's face...

But, best of all, children love it. When I first read it to
my four-year-old, her eyes lit up, she became completely
drawn into the story, and laughed and giggled as Raven did
his thing. She even demanded that I read it over again - a
rarity for my daughter, since she has a huge library of her
own now!

I'll buy anything else I can find from this author. He won
a Caldecott for this book, and small wonder; his work is
absolutely magnificent, and I recommend getting it in
hardcover because you'll wear the covers off a softcover
version! Enjoy it!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I get antsy when Native American themes and stories appear in children's books. Too often they reek of cultural misappropriation.
But this beautiful book--gorgeous watercolor backgrounds to the Northwest Native American-style imagery--feels respectful, and does a great telling of a favorite Tlingit Haida tale of how light came into the world.
The illustration of the morphing of the Sky Chief's spoiled grandson back into Raven is particularly effective.And when Raven fills the sky with the sun in his beak, it's very easy to buy into this story as a valid creation myth.
I've now bought three copies of this book for various pre-schoolers I know, and all my grown-up friensd who've seen this book have fallen in love with it, too. This is a definite winner, bound to become as classic in its own way as Robert McCloskey's ``Blueberries for Sal.''
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The kindle version of this book is terrible. The display does not match the text and most pages display twice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Lewis on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
It is a ritual in our household every winter solstice to read this story to our children. I love this telling of how Raven stole the sun and gave it to the people of earth. And the illustrations are so beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bjorn B. on November 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am hardly able to use the kindle version because of how unprofessionally formatted it is. I had hoped that similar comments from several months back would mean that it might have been fixed by now, but not at all. The price is a little higher than I like to spend on a kindle picture book anyways, and it would be nice if that money actually went to providing a nice product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ike on November 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up for my girls mostly to satisfy myself. I had taken a Native American lit class in College, and I thought I'd get more out of the book than the girls. Boy, was I wrong. This is consistently one of the most requested books at story time. I think the author and illustrator created a wonderful book that kids of all ages can find something they love!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CG2009 on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My students really liked this book. I teach first grade. It was great talking about indians and tolerance. There is a huge range of things to talk about with this book. Like do birds talk?
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