From the Mouth of the Monster Eel

From the Mouth of the Monster Eel: Stories from Micronesia by Bo Flood. Illus. by Margo Vitarelli. Golden, co: Fulcrum Kids, 1996. ISBN 1-55591-245-1 (HC) $15.95 53 pp.

From Micronesia, the islands far west of Hawaii, come these six legends about the beginnings of things. They are stories of magic, trickery , disobedience, courage and sacrifice. As they explain the origins of the bejwak bird, the breadfruit tree, coconuts, navigational stars, and more, they also give the reader a glimpse of the islands and the way life used to be. In the story of Sirena, the girl who could not resist the lure of the sea, we share the chores of tending taro, weaving mats and squeezing cream from coconuts. Children will identify with Sirena who tries hard to obey, but cannot stay away from the water, despite the risk of an awful punishment. They will learn, as Sirena did, that the survival of the society depends on the cooperation of every individual.

The book is intended for children but will be of interest to tellers ' looking for stories of the sea, of beginnings, or from that geographic area. And, of course, there are always other connections that can be made. "The Tree That Bled Fish," for instance, could be used ill an environmental program. There are a few problems with the book that could have been avoided with more careful editing-- mostly awkward phrasing and the odd grammatical error. The errors are outweighed by the stories, however. Monster Eel is the fourth book in the Fulcrum World Stories series. Others include Joe Bruchac's Dog People Joel Monture's Cloudwalker; and Priscilla Wu's The Abacus

Second Story Review, Vol 2, No 1 - Mar 1997
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