HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Favorite North American Indian Legends
Author: Philip Smith, Editor
Illustrator: Thea Kliros
Publisher: Dover Publications, 1994
ISBN-13: 978-0613981392 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0613981391 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0486278223 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0486278220 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.doverpublications.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 – 11
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Smith, Philip, Editor. Favorite North American Indian Legends (published in 1994 by Dover Publications Inc., Mineola, NY). This volume from Dover Children’s Thrift Classics, which I picked up at the Ohio Historical Society Museum in Columbus, OH, last fall, is a new anthology containing the unabridged text of thirteen North American Indian myths and legends selected from standard sources and intended especially for children. It is a sampling of stories handed down through generations of various Native American peoples, including the Tsimshian of the Pacific Northwest, the Passamaquoddy of Maine, the Micmac of New Brunswick, and the Pueblo of the American Southwest, along with the Cherokee, the Iroquois, and the Sioux. They include an Algonquin tale of how Glooskap conquered the Great Bull-Frog; “The Meeting of the Wild Animals,” a Tsimshian myth recounting how all the animals came to fear the porcupine; and “The Man Who Married the Moon,” a Pueblo story; as well as ten others.
Some people, especially those who enjoy reading native folklore, may find these accounts charming and brimming with humor, whimsy, and imagination. However, others may not care for them. In any event, don’t expect them to make a whole lot of sense. They certainly are quite fantastic and a few even a little bizarre. The language is not bad. One character uses the euphemistic “Confound it!”, which somehow doesn’t sound very Native American. As you might imagine, there are several references to smoking tobacco of the “peace pipe” variety. Some of these tales might make a good complement for students who are learning about the unique cultural heritage of North America’s original tribes. However, parents may want to preview them and take into account their children’s age and sensitivity. For example, in one story a kidnapped girl is forced, probably against her will, to cook a little boy for her master to eat. There are no graphic details, but it’s still a great big “ugh!” for children.