Monday, March 25, 2013

Rabbit's Snow Dance by James and Joseph Bruchac

A look back at a folktale from 2012.

Rabbit's Snow Dance
As told by James & Joseph Bruchac; Illustrated by Jeff Newman
Dial Books. 2012
ISBN: 9780803732704
Grades K and up
I checked out a copy of this book from my local public library.

Do you go out looking for pussy willows? In this entertaining take on a traditional Native American fable, father and son storytelling pair, Joseph and James Bruchac have re-told this engaging cautionary tale about how pussy willows came to be. 

Long ago, Rabbit had a long, beautiful tail. But even though his tale was long, his patience was short. When Rabbit wanted something he chanted, I want it. I want it. I want it right now!

What is sending Rabbit into a tantrum is his desire to eat the tasty leaves and buds at the top of the trees, but he can't reach them. If there was snow, Rabbit could easily reach them with his big snowshoe feet that allow him to walk on top of the snow. But, it is summertime. Rabbit decides it should snow right now, so he starts his special snow song and dance, ignoring the pleas from the other animals.

I bet you can guess the outcome. Rabbit sings and dances and soon there is so much snow - too much-- it covers all but the top leaves of the tallest tree. Worn out from all that dancing and singing, and before he takes one bite, Rabbit takes a long nap at the top of that tree. It is when he wakes, the snow all melted by the hot summer sun, that he falls down, down, down and little pieces of his tail get caught on one branch and another. And, ever since then, at the time of year when the snow goes away, you can see those little furry pieces of Rabbit's tale stuck on certain trees. Some call them pussy willows...

Newman's colorful illustrations, rendered in watercolor, gouache, and ink, are terrific. They show very expressive animals. From the worried looks of the bear and moose to the almost giddy smiles of Lynx, Otter, and Grouse who help with the snow dance, the pictures perfectly complement this tale about patience.

Be forewarned. When sharing this story with any age, Rabbit's snow chant is contagious. 

Thump! Thump!
Thump! Thump!
"Yo, Yo, Yo!
Yo, Yo, Yo!"

Happy Spring!

Listen to Joe tell a version of this traditional tale.
Read Debbie Reese's review on her blog American Indians in Children's Literature.

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