Monday, April 26, 2010

'Trickster' reviews

Reviews from some well-regarded trade publications:

Publishers Weekly (04/26/2010):
These 21 folktales, created by pairing Native storytellers with a variety of artists, feature creatures explaining how things came to be, like islands or stars, or animals playing tricks on one another. Often, the trickster, while trying to take the lazy way, outwits himself, especially when it involves Coyote. In other tales, Raven does whatever people tell him not to do, but ends up with a free meal anyway, and Rabbit tricks some buffalo and wolves and is tricked by Fox into losing his tail. Many of the stories, some of which involve tribespeople as well as animals, are told through captions, as though listening to an elder and envisioning the images he describes. Micah Farritor’s art in "Coyote and the Pebbles" and Dembicki’s in "Azban (Raccoon) and the Crayfish" are standouts in their animal images. The diverse styles are presented in lavish color in this thick, handsome volume. The short collection of contributor bios at the end is a helpful resource for finding more about the artists’ credits or the writers’ heritage.

School Library Journal (May 2010):
(Starred review)

More than 40 storytellers and cartoonists have contributed to this original and provocative compendium of traditional folklore presented in authentic, colorful, and engaging sequential art. The stories are drawn from a variety of Native peoples across North America, and so the trickster character appears variously as Rabbit, a raccoon, Coyote, and in other guises; landscapes, clothing and rhythms of speech and action also vary in keeping with distinct traditions. Realistic, impressionistic, painterly, and cartoon styles of art are employed to echo and announce the tone of each tale and telling style, making this a rich visual treasure as well as cultural trove. Contributors include well-known author Joseph Bruchac, Pueblo storyteller Eldrena Douma, cartoonist and Smithsonian Institution employee Evan Keeling, and many who have not worked in comics heretofore as well as cartoonists with no previous allegiance to telling Native stories with their art. The total package is accessible, entertaining, educational, inspiring, and a must-have for all collections.

Booklist (American Library Association, May 2010):
(Starred review)
This graphic-format collection of Native American tales featuring an old folk favorite—the trickster—hits an impressive trifecta of achievements. First, it’s a wildly successful platform for indie-comic creators and an excellent showcase for their distinctive styles. From David Smith and Jerry Carr's heroic, animation-inspired “Trickster and the Great Chief” to the Looney Toons zaniness of “Rabbit’s Chocktaw Tail Tale” by Tim Tingle and Pat Lewis, there’s a bit of visual panache here for every taste. Second, with the exception of a stray X-Man or two and an obscure DC sword-and-sorcery character, this is the first graphic novel to really focus on Native American themes and events, a surprising absence that this book remedies with respect and imagination. Lastly, as Native American folklore is so directly tied to the culture’s spirituality, this proves the rare graphic novel that handles such issues without specifically attaching them to standard religious practices. With stories that vary in emotional tone, matching the ever-shifting appearance and character of the trickster himself and the lessons he teaches and learns, this collection is an ideal choice for dipping into over and over. A dandy read for those interested in history, folklore, adventure, humor, or the arts, and a unique contribution to the form.

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