THE FIRST FIRE
A Cherokee Story
by Brad Wagnon and
The First Fire, A Cherokee Story takes place in a time when animals could do many of the things that people do. The Creator gave the animals the world to live on, but they were without a source for heat at night. Great Thunder and his sons saw the plight of the animals so he sent lightning down to strike a tree. The tree burst into flames but the tree was on an island. Many animals tried to bring the fire over the water to the shore, but they were all unsuccessful. Then one small creature, Water Spider, volunteered. Curious, the animals said to her "We know you could get there safely, but how would you bring the fire back without getting burned?"
Water Spider was successful and to this day the water spider is revered in Cherokee culture.
Folklore comes to life in this lovely picture book, where even the smallest can make a difference.
This book is based on a tale from the Cherokee culture, which for me already is an interest grabber. And this one is well done, too. The story is written in a very natural style with only a few lines of text on each page. Young listeners will have no trouble connecting with the story and understand the animals's troubles. I love the way it keeps the folklore alive without hitting upon heavy language or dragging story-telling. It simply makes a lovely read-aloud, and allows the tale to come to life.
The illustrations show the animals in a way listeners will easily recgonize, while still giving them a touch of 'human' personality. The mannerisms are subtle but still hold a few quirks that are sure to bring a smile or two. Young listeners will be able to flip through the tale on their own, too, and enjoy the animals' adventures after the tale has been read.
It's a great way to introduce Cherokee folklore and open the door to discussions. In other words, this one gets a nice thumbs up from me!