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Trickster and the Fainting Birds Hardcover – September 20, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sophisticated pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations grace this elegant, slightly oversize collection of seven Algonquian tales. Norman's (The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese) pungent retellings, redolent of the oral tradition from which they spring, make use of a strong conversational thread ("Trickster was sleeping poorly. Well, to tell the truth, he wasn't sleeping at all"). The images are vigorous ("close-eye sleet"; "snow-glare light") and the dialogue sounds freshly minted. Trickster is a beguiling bounderAa loner, mischief-maker, braggart and a cheat besides. Whether he's duping Fox out of a duck dinner ("Trickster and the Shut-Eye Dancers"), dealing with a complaining bird ("Trickster Tells Whiskey Jack the Truth") or getting his comeuppance for eating a village's entire catch of fish ("Trickster and the Clacking Sleeves"), his adventures make for amusing reading. Pohrt (Crow and Weasel) grounds the tales visually in the marshes and frozen forests of the far north, and his animal studies are meticulously executed. The precise, delicate lines of his drawings, coupled with his slightly moody, sepia-toned palette, suggest antique etchings. Beautifully designed and presented, this admirable book expands the area of Native American folklore in a dignified and welcome way. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Grade 1 Up-Norman has gathered these seven Algonquian tales from Native storytellers in Manitoba, Canada, and rewritten them in the language of the storyteller, including the asides and animal voices that are an integral part of the oral tradition. Background and source notes are included. The Algonquian trickster usually takes the form of a man, but he has magical powers that he uses in several of the stories to change himself into animal form. His expert lying skills help him to outsmart other animals in order to catch them for dinner. He boasts that he can beat others at their own strengths (the stamina of the wolverine, the duck-catching skills of the fox, the loneliness of the hermit), and he thinks nothing of stealing or boldly demanding food from others. Each story teaches a lesson in humanity: kindness toward others, sharing with those less fortunate, helping someone in trouble, being truthful and honest. There is a subtlety to the humor of these selections and their morals that is not found in the hilarious adventures of the conniving B'rer Rabbit or the tales of lazy, often-outsmarted Anansi. Pohrt's watercolors, finely detailed in pen and ink, are painted in the colors of fall-teal, muted gray-green, bittersweet and warm shades of brown. Illustrations vary from full page to small vignette and two-page panoramic strip-all nicely placed on glossy white pages of larger-than-average type in poetic format. These are tales that must be read aloud. Young children who cannot grasp the subtlety in them will find humor in the conversation and the sound effects.
Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (September 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152008888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152008888
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,381,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

HOWARD NORMAN is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His 1987 novel, The Northern Lights, was nominated for a National Book Award, as was his 1994 novel The Bird Artist. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and Devotion. His books have been translated into twelve languages. Norman teaches in the MFA program at the University of Maryland. He lives in Washington, D.C., and Vermont with his wife and daughter.

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