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The Song of Hiawatha
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The Song of Hiawatha is an epic verse of life in America before the coming of Europeans, written by one of our country's most notable poets. In creating the story of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used as his inspiration early ethnographic research into the life and folklore of the Great Lakes tribes. The poem is also undoubtedly the product of a European-American imagination, with its unabashedly romanticized look at a vanished way of life. First published in 1855 to critical acclaim, The Song of Hiawatha can be enjoyed both for its striking poetry and its interpretations of traditional Native American legends.
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Gr 3 Up-This picture-book version of the American epic is sure to elicit a wide spectrum of reactions. In contrast to Susan Jeffers's Hiawatha (Dial, 1983), a treatment that covers the legendary Native American leader's childhood, Early provides a broader scope. In spreads containing text on the left and an illustration on the right, she begins with Gitche Manito's descent to Earth to call the hostile tribes to peace and to promise a prophet to lead them. Excerpts from the poem describe Hiawatha's maternal line and cosmic paternity, his early life with old Nokomis, his prowess as a hunter, the confrontation with his father (the West-Wind), and his marriage to Minnehaha. Brief bits of prose stand in for the missing stanzas. The paintings are decorative in nature, a quality emphasized by the quiltlike borders on each page. The scenes have a staged, static quality, with carefully placed, furry woodland creatures; stylized figures; and mystical backdrops. While this approach is not out of sync with the poem's predictable cadences, it is not for all tastes. A historical note discusses the choices Longfellow made in designing his composite character, as well as his sources. Most libraries will want to purchase this title in order to offer a fresh and somewhat expanded, illustrated version of the classic to a new generation.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Selections from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem appear in The Song of Hiawatha, illus. by Margaret Early, which traces Hiawatha's life from his birth through his search for and battle with his estranged father, culminating in his marriage to Minnehaha. The picture book leaves out some of the more sophisticated ideas, keeping each excerpt to one left-hand page, opposite a dramatic painted scene on the right. Brief synopses fill in sections of plot not covered in the excerpted verses themselves. Early's paintings depict Hiawatha's journeys in colorfully stylized scenes. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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