Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature
FINAL BOOK REVIEWS
April 30, 2004
NAME OF BOOK: Anna'a Athabaskan Summer
AUTHOR: Arnold Griese
ILLUSTRATOR: Charles Ragins
YEAR BOOK WAS PUBLISHED: 1995
IS THE BOOK PART OF A SERIES (DESCRIBE)? No
WHAT IS THE SETTING OF THE BOOK (TIME AND PLACE)? Interior
Alaska, modern times
The author, Arnold Griese, is currently a professor of children's
literature at UAF.The author taught for 'several years' in a one room
school in Tanana and traveled by plane to other villages where he
heard tales of ancient days.
The main character is Anna, an Athabascan girl of about 8 years
old. Anna travels with her family to their summer fish camp in
Interior Alaska. The setting is modern times, although the book
includes less modern aspects of fish camp including staying for the
whole summer and working on a moose hide. The fish camp shows the
family engaged in fishing as well as berry picking.
The book very nicely shows the intergenerational relationship
between Anna and her grandmother. Her mother is also an important
character in the book. However, Anna's father is mostly missing from
the story, as he works in town and is not in fish camp for most of
the summer. In modern day fish camps, even though the father might
have a job in town, he would not leave the family alone at fish camp
for long periods of time. The encounter with a bear while berry
picking should have also been taken more seriously. The book also
could have included more Athabascan words and more detail of what
happens at fish camp. When the family was leaving, the process should
have included loading up the winter's supply of fish.
The book does include some traditional teaching by the grandmother
when discussing the respect and spirituality shown to the salmon, the
raven, and other aspects of nature. It also shows Anna helping with
the fishing process and provides a good self-image for children.
This book would be good to use with elementary students. When
using the book in the classroom, I would suggest including a
discussion of how fish camps have changed over time, and to have
students discuss what they do at fish camp. The discussion could
include the roles of various family members at fish camp, and the
steps in preparing fish. Students could also discuss what they did
over summer vacation, life cycles of salmon, berries, harvesting of
subsistence foods and other seasonal activities. The book could also
lead to a discussion of what their grandparents and other elders have
told them about respecting nature and other traditional teaching.
The book reviews are a result of students enrolling in special topics course
Ed 493 Examining Alaska Children's Literature taught by Esther A. Ilutsik
in the Spring of 2004.
The book reviews are written by the students and are a reflection of their
own analysis of the books and have not been altered in any way. The reviewers
have given permission to share the book reviews on the HAIL website.