Turtle Island ABC: A Gathering of Native American Symbols

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9780060213077: Turtle Island ABC: A Gathering of Native American Symbols

From A to Z, traditional Native American symbols are defined in this illustrated dictionary in terms of stories told by Native Americans. Resonant with meaning and lyricism and illustrated with softly colored, evocative pastels, this is a book to be treasured and shared. Full color.

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From School Library Journal:

Kindergarten-Grade 2-This alphabet book, compiled by the author of a number of collections of myths and stories from Indian traditions for adults, serves as a vehicle to present some key elements of Native American philosophies to children. One letter is featured per page on a full-color background in shades of red, purple, orange, or brown. The letter C is illustrated by corn, H by a hummingbird, B by a buffalo, etc., but the images are overwhelmed by the overbearing background palettes. Each entity speaks to readers in its own voice, explaining what it is and what function it fulfills in Native American life. This works well, and the text flows like poetry, conveying feelings much more than information. Everything is attributed to "The People," but only occasionally are the various items linked to their cultural homes. Although never made clear, the focus is on the Southwestern tribes, reflecting the author's association with them. Some symbols are common throughout the Americas, such as R for round or D for drum, but some are not particularly Native American (L for light and N for name), while others (K for kachina) have a unique tribal connection that is ignored. There is a slight New Age flavor to the book. Illustrations that lack sharpness and specificity mar this well-intentioned effort.
Lisa Mitten, University of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Not so much a collection of "Native American symbols" as a smattering of watered-down motifs from Native American cultures, this ABC adds up to not much. A lot of the information here seems empty: Hausman writes, for example, that W is for Wolf, the wanderer who was sent to find the "secret of the dawn" and came back without it, a meaningless anecdote unless told in the Native way, as a palatable offering of a life lesson. An introduction purports to add authority to the selection of words, but the book belies it. For instance, X is said to stand for "the Crossing Place"--a curious and confusing blend of sounds and letters. The "symbols," heavily weighted to the Plains and Southwest cultures, occasionally neglect to indicate origin (as in R is for Round, the shape of the lodge The People live in; this might be a reference to the Navajo hogan, although readers have earlier been shown the boxlike pueblos). Soft-edged, occasionally blurred illustrations in a palette of Southwestern colors are not particularly apt, and the lack of Native design elements results in a very Anglo-looking book. All ages.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Barry Moser
Published by Harpercollins Childrens Books (1994)
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