Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature
Book Review #5
Paul Owen Lewis
"Frog Girl", another interesting book published by Paul Owen
Lewis, whom also completed; "Grasper, Storm Boy, Davey's Dream,
P.Bear's New Year's Party." This book was published in 1997 with
special thanks to Bill Holm, Chris Landon a Native cultural advisor,
Michelle Roehm, Alisha Hagerty, and Marisa Morales, for their help
with the text and art, and also to the Northwest Coast people for
their culture that inspired it." This book is for Michelle,
Towards the back of this book, he shares in his notes, all the
historical information of the Haida, Tlinget, and other Native
peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of America's rich cultural
information of traditional oral stories. He shares the "Hero"
adventures found in all their mythologies, "a hero ventures forth
from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder:
fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won:
the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to
bestow boons on his fellow man."
"Frog Girl" reflects Joseph Campbell's three rites of passage:
separation, initiation, and return just as was in "Storm Boy". A
portion of the proceeds from this book is donated to the Haida Gwaii
Rediscovery Program for tribal youth, just as "Storm Boy." This book
is well done with the text created for children to enjoy reading and
the art work is brilliantly portrayed with bright colors depicting
the culture and actions of the story.
The character is a little daughter of a chief of a small village
who often went alone to a lake to listen to frog's sing their songs.
But one day she heard no songs and only heard human voices, who
happen to be two boys hunting them. After they left she went closer
to try and find a frog but suddenly heard human voice which happens
to be coming from a small frog in the grass. The frog took her to his
place, at the edge of the lake, where it lifted up! At once she found
herself in a large empty village, a young woman told her, "we live as
you do." The little girl asks, "where are your people?" and the young
girl says that's why my grandmother wishes to ask her why all her
children were taken and no longer has their songs to comfort her."
The little girl told her of the two boys, grandmother cries, the fire
grew hotter, the house shook, and quickly the young girl told her to
go back to her village by closing her eyes and thinking.
Suddenly she was back at the lake, saw black smoke, it was the
volcano, she quickly ran back to the village, found the frogs and ran
back to the lake to free them. Soon as she released them it began to
rain, her people returned by canoe. She told them what happened and
she told them that they are their sisters and brothers and that we
should treat them so.
This is a 3.8 reading level and is used for the Accelerator
Reading Program at our school. My students have read this book along
with "Storm Boy" for our Literacy Reading program, after studying a
unit on legends around the world. A few of my students have written a
book report after reading the story and they really enjoyed reading
it and the book's illustrations. The artwork is brilliant and does
emphasize the richness of the Haida, Tlinget, and other Natives of
the Pacific Northwest region. It is a wonderful book to incorporate
into the Social Studies/Geography when teaching Alaska Studies for
our students to grasp a better understanding of the Southeast and
North Pacific Northwest Region.
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.