Middle School (9 - 14) Books

A WALK TO THE GREAT MYSTERY by Virginia Stroud. Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (212) 366-2000, (212) 366-2666 FAX. 32 pp., $14.99 cloth. 0-8037-1636-2

In this second book by the award-winning artist and writer, Dustin and Rosie pay a visit to their grandmother, a Cherokee medicine woman who looks at things in a special way. She takes the children into the woods to look for the Great Mystery. At first they are confused, but eventually they understand that it is the spirit of life all around them, even inside them. An enlightening story about respect and tradition, illustrated with sun-washed acrylics where almost everything is circular. Why, though, are their faces so white? Grade: B+. Reviewed by Steve Brock

A Second Look: Their faces are white (pink actually) because that's Cherokee artist Stroud's style for all her highly stylized, appealing paintings and posters of Native children. These are available in fine-quality prints (signed) and unsigned posters from Toh-Atin gallery, Durango, CO, 800-525-0384. The $45-$100 first edition signed prints are probably too expensive for cxlassrooms, but her posters, Joys of Snow, Sisterhood, Time to get Home (at $30) are high quality illustrations that show native life in a way many find appealing and children find very attractive. Smaller images (about 11 x 16) are also available for $25-$50. Some of the large prints are pictures from the above reviewed storybook (and other books Stroud has illustrated), while others are artwork that illustrates young people in a variety of daily life situations and tasks. Stroud is a former Miss Indian America who has gone on in life to make the most of her artistic talent. Her stylized Indian young people do not look in the least white. Artistic criticism should be avoided by those who are unable to see what an artist is doing. Stroud's pictures are deservedly loved in Indian country and are often seen on the walls of Indian schoolroomsand in reservation homes. I would rate the above book an A (if I thought that was a good way of reviewing), based on my own reaction to it, and that of quite a few Indian kids in ages from 9 to 14. It communicates well and beautifully something most of our kids are very interested in learning more about. By Paula Giese

File: mi202

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 1996 - 11:37:17 AM