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The Great Canoe: A Kariña Legend Hardcover – September 9, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Calderon's intricately textured woodcuts enliven a Kari¤a (an indigenous people who occupied eastern Venezuela on the Orinoco River) version of the Great Flood. Here, the "Sky Dweller" Kaputano prophesies the dreadful storm. Most of his listeners ridicule his predictions, but four couples join Kaputano in building a giant thatch-roofed canoe, filling it with "two of each kind of animal" and "a seed from each kind of plant." Unlike the dutiful Noah and his family, Kaputano's passengers complain about the barren world that remains after the floodwaters recede. "Where are the groves of palms whose leaves we weave into baskets and roofs? Where are the mountains on whose slopes we grow food?" Kaputano obliges his people with abundance, and the story ends happily with a moonlit dance. Calderon's (Buzz, Buzz, Buzz) gently tinted woodcuts, layered with a multitude of delicately etched lines depicting raging waves, sheets of rain and rays of sun, anchor the scenes firmly in the dramatic landscape. A striking image shows the canoe from the air, with the four couples hard at work around it, smoke billowing from the reed fire meant to hollow it out. First-time author Maggi provides a respectful retelling, and Calderon's work makes an exotic world seem close enough to touch. Ages 2-5.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 1-6-In this tale of the Kari-a people of Venezuela, Kaputano, the Sky Dweller, warns of a great rain that will soon fall. Only four couples believe his words and help construct a huge canoe. After taking two of each kind of animal plus seeds from all the plants, they board the vessel and ride out the storm. The rest of the people and animals perish in the rising waves. After the waters subside, Kaputano creates a luxuriant new world for the survivors, whose descendants celebrate its riches. Parallels to "Noah's Ark" are obvious and could lead to interesting comparisons, especially if one drew in additional versions from other cultures. However, Calder-n's striking illustrations are worth considering on their own merits. The majestic opening panorama sets the story in mythic time. The impending storm and powerful waves capture the intensity of the destruction while the verdant landscapes display the abundance of post-deluge life. A stunning example of a familiar story in an unfamiliar setting.

Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books; First US edition (September 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0888994443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888994448
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,448,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Great Canoe: A Karina Legend is a tribal tale retold for preschool readers ages 2 to 5 and superbly illustrated by Gloria Calderon. The Karina were a tribal people living along the banks of the Orincoco River in what is now Venezuela and were known as great navigators, traders and warriors termed "Caribs" by the Spaniards. In the story, Kaputano, dweller of the Heavens, appears to the Karina people and warns them that a great rain would come and water would cover the earth. Kaputano urges the people to join him in building a canoe, but only four couples agree to help. They built a huge canoe and bring two of each kind of animal on board with them, plus a seed from every plant. Just as they finish their work a huge storm begins and a flood of water covers even the tallest trees drowning all the humans and animals left outside the boat. After many days the water subsides and Kaputano realizes that the survivors cannot live in such a flood ravaged world so he creates marshes, rivers, mountains and trees for them. The Great Canoe is a welcome and highly recommended addition to family, day-care center, preschool, and community library fairytale, mythology, and folklore collections.
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Format: Hardcover
To the stories of the great flood from the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the classical myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha, we can add this Karina version of the deluge story. The Karina, called the Carib Indians by their Spanish conquerors, are the descendants fo the the people that occupied eastern Venezula from the Orinoco River to the coast. "The Great Canoe" tells the story of how, a long time ago, Kaputano, Dweller of the Heavens, appeared to the Karina and warned them that a great rain would fall and water would cover the earth. Kaputano urged the Karina to join him in building canoes in which to escape the flood, but only four couples believed him. This is their story.
Almost as interesting is the quest of Maria Elena Maggi, who wanted to set the story of Noah's Ark in the New World, only to discover various Karina versions of the deluge story. While Maggi worked on weaving the story into the world of the Karina, artist Gloria Calderon studied the fauna and flora of the Caribbean region to work into her gorgeous illustrations. Orignally published in Venezelua as "La Gran Canoa," this English version is translated by Elisa Amando. An afterword will be of little interest to young children, but teachers and parents will enjoy learning about how Maggi and Calderon immersed themselves in their research for this story and the various antecedents for both the legend and the artwork.
I am putting together a Comparative Mythology course and stories like "The Great Canoe," which can be compared and contrasted with myths and legends from other cultures around the world, are perfect introductory material for such a class. However, for the young readers for whom this book is intended, simply listening to the story and looking at the detailed pictures, will be enough.
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By Crystal S. on September 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Great Thanks!
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