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Ann Blades.
Montréal, PQ: Tundra Books, 1984.
unpaged, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88894-845-0. CIP.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9

Reviewed by Gudrun Wight.

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Librarians in need of a new copy will be glad to see available again this carefully crafted, superbly illustrated story about Charlie, the young Carrier Indian boy. Since the first edition, which placed as runner-up for the Best Illustrated Book of the Year (Canadian Association of Children's Librarians, 1974), the title has gone through several printings, as well as translations into Swedish, Danish, and Finnish.

In A Boy of Taché, through judicious foreshadowing, Ann Blades moulds an actual episode that occurred during her year teaching in 1969 at Taché, a remote Indian reservation north-west of Prince George, British Columbia, into an adventure story that will hold children's interest. As soon as enough ice has melted on the lakes and rivers to permit travel by outboard motor, Charlie accompanies his grandparents, Za and Virginia, on the annual spring journey to the beaver trapping grounds, where they have a cabin. One day Za and Charlie hike inland, shoot a grouse, which they roast over their campfire, and sleep on ceder boughs. In the chilly night, seventy-four-year-old Za develops a "cold sick" and decides they had better return to the cabin. There he grows steadily worse, in spite of Virginia's bark medicine. When pneumonia threatens the old man's life, Charlie has to set out alone by boat to the nearest settlement, where a friend of the family accompanies him to a construction camp to telephone for a plane to take Za to hospital. The narration is quite and matter-of-fact, in keeping with the quiet dignity of Indians I have known.

The watercolour illustrations, which are well correlated with the text, sensitively portray the isolation of this Indian reservation, surrounded by miles of rolling hills, white birches, and long lakes. The author/artist's keen observation has resulted in an authentic portrayal of the life of the natives. Among other details, she shows rough cabins with outhouses in the background, youngsters chopping wood and carrying water pails, and an Indian woman cleaning a beaver pelt.

This is a valuable book for social studies units on Indians and multiculturalism. It is also suitable for story hours and, with its clear print, for reading by children themselves. I recommend it highly.

Gudrun Wight, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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