06 November 2007

Great Children's Literature: Fire Race


If you are a true localvore, does that mean you read local tales to your children? I try to chose local goods as much as possible, and I have always had an affinity for Native American stories. In California Native American tales, Coyote is often the trickster. In Fire Race, Coyote is up to his old tricks and steals fire from the Yellow Jacket Sisters.

Fire Race is beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long, and the illustrations hold true to Karuk traditions in the garb of the animal characters. For example, Coyote wears a basket cap traditional to the Karuk Tribe. The Karuk Tribe resides in far northern California along the Klamath River. Fire Race tells the traditional tale of how Coyote appealed to the vanity of the yellow jacket sisters to steal their fire. The race begins, with many local animals passing the fire to one another as the yellow jacket sisters chase them. Eventually, the fire is swallowed into the wood, where it is stored today for us to burn and stay warm.

I just love this book! It has always been one of my favorites as a teacher and a parent. There are so many things to discuss, such as the vanity of the Yellow Jacket Sisters and the cooperative effort of the animals. I love to connect the story to our hearth for our children, as we give thanks for the warmth our woodstove provides us. It is a gift from the land.

"Play is the highest form of research." -Albert Einstein