When Beaver Was Very Great
When Beaver Was Very Great; Stories to Live By by Anne M. Dunn. Mount Horeb, WI: Midwest Traditions, 1995 $18.95 ISBN 1-883953-08-1 (hard) 223p. ISBN 1-883953-07-3 (soft)
It was a frigidly cold, snowy day when Anne Dunne’s book arrived for review, and the moment I saw the cover I felt the warmly invited into another place. I was not disappointed. Ojibwe storyteller Anne Dunn has gathered into this book a mix of traditional stories and original pieces which teach gentle lessons and open eyes to the world around us.
From some of the traditional stories we learn about perseverance, self-sacrifice, pride, jealousy and conceit. We learn about the beginnings of things, and how to live in harmony with nature.
Her original pieces are simple life musings. One about her casket practice as a child made me laugh aloud and remember myself doing almost the same thing. Her interpretation of floor sweeping techniques employed by children has given me a whole new way to understand my children. This spring my daughter and I will be looking for jack-in-the-pulpits so that wet tool can leave messages for the little beings in the woods. And thanks to her descriptions I have been able to walk the countryside with her in all seasons and agree that indeed, there is no gift like a lovely day.
The stories are quiet and full of wisdom and brought together as a whole create a beautiful and powerful experience. The stories are Anne's to tell but I thank her for letting me share in the pleasure of them through the written word.
Part of the pleasure of the book was in the illustrations by Sharon L. White, who is also Ojibwe.
Midwest Traditions is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the study and preservation of the folk history and traditional cultures of the American Midwest. You can write to it at Box 320, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin/53572.
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The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 1, March 1996