Thursday, December 13, 2012

Native Children's Book of The Month: December

The story of the bear stealing the chinook, the moist warm wind that usually blows from the west, is an old Blackfoot story. As a Siksika Native I am partial to Siksika children's books whenever I can manage to find them in my area. If there is a tribe in an area inhabited by bears, chances are that tribe has two bear dances every year. The first bear dance puts the bears to sleep. I don't mean euthanasia. I mean actual sleep. This is usually done as the seasons change which coincides with the hibernation cycle of bears. The second dance is done, depending on the geographical location of the tribe, sometime between January and March. This dance is intended to wake the bears to kick start the beginning of the new season. When Bear Stole The Chinook is an adaptation of the Siksika tale of how the bear stole the chinook and how a boy had to steal it back and release it. 
It is not a book intended for beginning readers. This is definitely a read-aloud book for younger children. The illustrations are simple yet colorful. The illustrator even used the Pendleton blanket National Parks Collection Glacier design for the boy's blanket. The story is told in a way that helps your child remember the traditional story with ease. I originally read this story to my son last winter. But he still thinks of this story the moment he sees the leaves turn yellow and orange in the fall. He asks, "Is it time to put the bears to sleep?" When winter is too cold he asks, "Should I go steal the chinook back from the bear?" This book has become a seasonal classic in our family.