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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

Retold by Gerald McDermott


McDermott, Gerald. RAVEN. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993. ISBN 015024492.


In this Native American tale, Raven feels sorry for the men and women of the world because they are living in darkness. He flies in search of light and finds it in the house of the Sky Chief. Raven tricks the sky chief and gives light to the world.


In this trickster tale, Raven is sad that the world is in darkness. The illustrations in the early part of the book are dark and misty, much like the Pacific Northwest coast where the story originated. Raven's bright colors stand out from the drab background, clearly proclaiming him the hero of the story. When Raven transforms to a baby, he retains many of the physical features and bright colors he had as a bird, reminding us of his purpose for being in the Sky Chief's house. McDermott does an excellent job of depicting the Sky Chief and his family in traditional Native American dress.


The story has many of the elements of  good traditional literature. The plot is simple and direct; Raven is on a quest to bring the sun to the world. He completes his quest cleverly, with the help of magic. The language style has an oral quality. When the book is read aloud it retains the flavor of a legend told from one generation to the next and brings to life the traditions of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans.


Children will enjoy this book with its brightly colored hero who used trickery and magic to do a good deed.

Traditional Literature