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The Earth under Sky Bear's Feet
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The lights of the night, especially the stars and the moon, have captivated Native American peoples across North America and elsewhere for centuries. Joseph Bruchac, an Abenaki storyteller, has collected in this companion volume to Thirteen Moon's on Turtle's Back a series of stories what these celestial bodies mean to diverse Native American cultures; he then retells them in lyric poetry. Included are "Sky Bear" of the Mohawk, "Song to the Firefly" of the Anishinabe, "Flute Song" of the Pima (which evokes the myths of Kokopeli), "The Northern Lights" of the Missisquoi, "Mother's Bragging Song" of the Winnebago, "The Scattered Stars" of the Cochiti Pueblo, "The Seven Mateinnu" of the Lenape, "The Tale of Pinon Gatherers" of the Chumash, "A Summer Song" of the Inuit, "The Old Wolf's Song" of the Lakota, "Dawn House Song" of the Navajo, and "Spirit Dance Song" of the Pawnee. Mr. Bruchac, in an Author's Note at the end of the volume, explains what these stories mean to all Native American peoples, children and adults alike. He reveals that the constellation we know as the Big Dipper (the Drinking Gourd in African-American folklore) is also seen as a great bear, the Sky Bear of his poetry, something many of us all too often take for granted.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a beautiful book---both in word and in illustration. I love the visionary idea of Sky Bear's "sensory" journey through the star, her well-known path in the night sky. The timeless, inviting nature of the myth, the land, the stars, the images, and the poems connect readers to something larger than themselves, to something warm and positive...to something that breathes with its own life and pulse.

My favorite poem / illustration pair from the book is "The Scattered Stars" (from the Cochiti Pueblo, Southwest) because it reminds me of the book "How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend" told by Jerrie Oughton, illustrated by Lisa Desimini. Each tells a similar tale whereby curiosity and impatience bring disorganization and confusion to the night sky---save for a few special patterns (constellations) that survive. How clever the Southwest peoples were to develop such an idea to explain the infinite, speckled heavens that opened up above them.

I also like "The Seven Mateinnu" poem / illustration pair (Lenape Eastern Woodlands) because it reminds me of the Pleiades stars--one of my favorite star-gazing objects, and I like the story of seven wise men as depicted in the poem rather than seven maidens, which is popular in other world myths.

Another notable piece in this book is "The Trail of the Pinon Gatherers," which describes "Sky Coyote, Star Who Never Moves" ---which sounds very much like a description of the North Star, Polaris, which, of course, is a circumpolar star that never appears to move.

The book is well-designed, and the poems' text is easy to read (great for eye-glass wearers!) The author's notes at the end of the book are helpful for further reading. All and all, this is a fantastic book to share with any class that studies descriptive astronomy, mythology, legends, folklore, and history. The book teaches respect and appreciation for the night sky as well as respect and appreciation for Native American cultures.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
My grandaughter is interested in the constellations -- this book combines information on the constellations with Indian poetry -- it is a lovely tribute to the sky.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a beautiful night time story. I am looking for high quality books about Native Americans and this is a great one for younger children. It is a beautiful book with a calm and soothing feel to it. Great for a classroom library or bedtime story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Pictures are great - i collect American Indian lore for kids. Like the book much.
a god selection of stories.
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on May 20, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I ended up with two of these books. Gave one to my Dine-Hopi friend for her children. She was so glad for it. It helped me with a project I am working on for my portfolio from completing a masters in writing and psychology.
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