Heetunka's Harvest: A Tale of the Plains Indians
Ages 5 to 12
Jones discards Native American storytelling conventions in her version of a Plains Indian tale; the result is an abruptly moderated cautionary tale. A Dakota woman, proud of her thorough preparations for winter, turns greedy as she contemplates Heetunka the Bean Mouse's store of rich white beans. Instead of taking what she needs and leaving behind the customary exchange, she scoops up every last bean. The woman behaves ever more selfishly and destructively, until she finally loses her well-appointed tipi in a prairie fire that, pointedly, leaves her neighbors' homes untouched. Stripped of Native American formalities, the story seems bare, inviting readers to doubt the protagonist's sudden descent into moral bankruptcy. Keegan's illustrations, framed in a motif incorporating quill work, fetish shells and feathers, add authenticity, while an author's note and glossary provide valuable documentation. Ages 6-12. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. Ages 5-8. Heetunka the bean mouse spends the late summer gathering beans so her family will have enough food to last the winter. In the fall, Indian women come and take some of her beans, leaving a like amount of corn or suet in exchange. A Dakota woman who wants beans for her family does not acknowledge Heetunka's hard work or rights and takes all that she finds, leaving nothing in exchange and ignoring Heetunka's wails. That night, a prairie fire burns the woman's tepee and all her possessions, although no other home in the settlement is harmed, forcing her family to rely on relatives for help to keep from starving. The illustrations are large and effectively framed by examples of Indian beadwork and woodwork, making them perfect to show during group reading, but the messages of fair play and respect are so overt that they overwhelm the story. Sheilamae O'Hara
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|Flowing Text / Pages||Pages|
- PDF | 32 pages
- Roberts Rinehart (October 1, 1998)
- Children's Books
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