Saturday, September 5, 2020

Review: The Sacred Song of the Hermit Thrush by Tehanetorens

 I've always had a soft spot for myths and legends from other cultures. So, when I had the opportunity to get my hands on this book, of course I took it. This one comes from the Mohawks and is a treat to discover.

by Tehanetorens
Illustrated by David Fadden
7th Generation
Picture Book / Folklore
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

Long ago, when the birds had no songs, only man could sing. When the Great Spirit walked on the Earth, he noticed a great silence. He realized the birds had no songs. He devised a great game and told the birds who ever could fly the highest, would receive a very beautiful song. But not all the birds were honest. In his desire to win the game, the small hermit thrush jumped on the back of the great eagle. The eagle flew higher than any of the birds, but when he came back to land, the Great Spirit said the hermit thrush had gone the highest since he was on the eagle's back.
Hermit thrush was awarded a beautiful song, but in his shame for not being honest, he flew into the deep woods. To this day, you may hear the lovely song of the hermit thrush, but you may not ever see him.



In traditional story telling form, this tale makes a lovely read-aloud.

At one time, only humans could sing. Birds would sit by and listen, wishing that they too could produce such lovely tunes. When the Great Spirit walks across the landscape, he notices the birds' desire and creates a contest, allowing them to have the chance to gain the most beautiful song of all. But there's one little bird, which is disappointed. Unless the poor Hermit Thrush comes up with a plan, it knows it doesn't have a chance. 

It's always interesting and fun to discover myths from other cultures, and the Mohawk is one which lays close to home. The tale in this book is one, which is entertaining and intriguing enough to draw listeners in. The Hermit Thrush is an underdog, and young listeners will wonder how the small bird can pull of his biggest wish while rooting for him the entire time. The story is written in a way, which listeners can easily understand while still holding tight to a more traditional, story form. It isn't overly wordy, but sticks to the point to keep boredom away. I can see this one as making a very nice read-aloud.

The illustrations offer many details and tons of opportunity for listeners to gaze at and study on their own. The birds are depicted with enough true-to-life accuracy to keep them very recognizable. But what I truly enjoy is the attention paid to historic details—who the Mohawk people were and how they lived. It's not set on center stage, but rather shown. And this offers a great opportunity for guardians or adults sharing the read to dive deeper into the Mohawk culture...without interfering with the tale, while reading it. Anyone wanting to introduce young readers to the Mohawks or open up discussions in this direction, will definitely find this book a treat.

1 comment:

Sakoieta Widrick said...

This was always a good story to tell. I have told it for years to various groups. It is very good that it has now come out and is presented as a very excellently made book.