Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Children’s book, Published: January 05, 2009 9:00 PM The First Beaver author Caroll Simpson Ever wonder where the first beaver came from?
Author and illustrator Caroll Simpson explores the First Nations explanation in a beautifully drawn children’s book, called, appropriately, The First Beaver.
The tale starts with the birth of a child, whose hair is not black like the everyone else’s, but brown instead. She is named Reedee, and as she grows older, she begins to act oddly.
All night long she disappears into the woods. One day her father follows her, worried about her. But Reedee tells him that she must follow her path alone.
The village begins to be troubled by water shortages, as the creek dries up. Meanwhile, Reedee keeps vanishing into the night. Then one day, the creek is filled again. Once again, Reedee’s father follows her into the night, where he discovers a lake where Reedee has built a damn. The girl too has changed — into a beaver.
Simpson, who splits her time between Babine Lake and Cowichan Lake, writes simply, but the text is surprisingly melodic in tone. Her voice is definitely one of a storyteller. In fact, Simpson taught First Nations art and drama to elementary school children for years before she bought a remote fishing lodge on Babine Lake.
The story itself is rather melancholy, for although the girl turns into the first beaver, she also is taken away from her family by her destiny.
Simpson’s illustrations are  fascinating, especially her First Nations’ crests, which are prominently exhibited on each page.
At the back of the book, she explains some of the mythology behind each of the characters, from the beaver to the eagle. This portion of the book is particularly interesting, perhaps even more so for the adults reading the story to their children.
Her choice of colour for the illustrations — natural tones and primary colours — also serve to create a lush, natural environment and mode in the children’s book.
The First Beaver is $24.95 and available through bookstores or online at www.heritagehouse.ca.The First Beaver is written by Caroll Simpson,

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