Name of Book: When Bear Stole the Chinook: A Siksika tale
Author: Harriet Peck Taylor
Illustrator: Harriet Peck Taylor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Audience: Ages 5 – 8
Summary: This is the retelling of a Siksika tale that explains why bears hibernate and what brings warm weather in the spring. It is the story of a bear who steals the warm wind and the boy and his friends who go to set the Chinook free to allow spring to come.
Literary elements at work in the story:This is a tribal legend. It is a story told to explain why things are the way they or how things got to be this way. This story is told from the third person as a narrator describes the action and events, as though telling a history around the fire to a new generation of people. The telling has a young boy as the hero, but he is aided by his animal friends. All in all, it is a style we’re familiar with – the hopeful telling of one who sets out to set things right for all.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The perspective of the tribe living in the wilderness and not the city or the suburbs distances the story from ‘normal’ life for many readers, making it easier to appreciate the talking animals and the wind trapped in a bag. The nature of being a tribal tale means that it may be assumed knowledge by some and completely new to others.
Theological conversation partners (scripture, confessions, doctrines, theologians, etc): I would connect this story with the narrative of David and Goliath. In both stories, the child achieves victory to keep their people alive when it seems that the adults aren’t doing anything. This also connects to the sense of calling and vocation that God uses people who aren’t always the ones that we would expect to bring about salvation or that salvation comes in unexpected ways. Who would expect an orphan whose only friends are animals to be able to save the entire tribe? How could one boy overcome the big bear?
Faith Talk Questions:
- Why aren’t the adults doing anything?
- Who would you expect to help bring spring?
- Who is the biggest help to the boy?
- Why do you think we don’t learn the boy’s name?
- Could the boy set the Chinook free alone?
- Why doesn’t the boy keep the Chinook for himself?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Wade Halva.