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The Earth under Sky Bear's Feet: Native American Poems of the Land Paperback – September 28, 1998
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"Sky Bear (also known as the Big Dipper) circles the Earth each night, and these 12 poems tell of what she sees and hears....A thoughtful collection that eloquently bears out the theme of unity of all creatures." —School Library Journal
"From the Mohawk and Missisquoi peoples of the Northeastern United States to the Pima, Cochiti Pueblo, and Navajo people of the Southwest to the Subarctic Inuit, these pieces reflect an awe and appreciation of the natural world. Locker's deeply hued paintings burst with the beauty of night." —The Horn Book
"Locker's landscape technique has seldom worked to better effect....Engrossing." —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. For more information about Joseph, please visit his website www.josephbruchac.com.
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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.