Friday, March 18, 2011

Trickster: Native American tales, a graphic collection by various authors and illustrators

Quite a few people have been getting excited about this book, and when I borrowed it from another library, I found myself getting excited also. There's such a wide and fascinating mixture of stories and art styles, there's sure to be something to interest every reader.

Although some of the stories have odd turns of phrases or plot that will be confusing to anyone not familiar with that particular culture, there's not really anything most parents would find inappropriate for their children and I think this collection would fit comfortable into any age level - juvenile, teen, or adult.

They're all trickster tales, of course, which tend to be the most accessible stories passing between different cultures, in my opinion. Some of my favorite selections in this book include...Azban and the crayfish by James and Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Matt Dembicki, which tells the story of clever Azban the raccoon and how he tricks the crayfish into becoming his dinner, with realistic art and lots of verve and sly humor. Rabbit and the tug of war by Michael Thompson with art by Jacob Warrenfeltz - I had thought this particular story was African, and I was interested to see it in a different setting, with lots of grays and browns in the artwork. Rabbit's Choctaw Tail Tale by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Pat Lewis is told in a very corny way with lots of silly, cartoonish illustrations that would make a hilarious read-aloud or a good short puppet play. I liked the glowing colors and clever story of The Wolf and the Mink by Elaine Grinnell, art by Michelle Silva.

There's a complete list of contents, note from the editor (Matt Dembicki) explaining how the collection came to be, and a detailed list of contributors. You'll have to read carefully through the contributor list to match up the tales with their various origins, or you can just read and enjoy. Of course, the binding looks doubtful, as about 90% of paperback graphic novel bindings do, but at least there's plenty of gutter so you can rebind and glue when it falls apart.

Verdict: A definite recommendation for any graphic novel collection - or for your 398's, if you don't have a gn collection yet. I would put it in a middle grade or juvenile collection, but it would work fine in teen or adult as well.

ISBN: 978-1555917241; Published June 2010 by Fulcrum; Borrowed from the library

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