Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature
Paul Owen Lewis
This book was first published in 1995 by Gareth Stevens
Publishing. It is written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis. It has
32 pages and is a winner of both American Book Award [for
excellence in multicultural literature] and the Washington State
Govenor's writer's Award. It was also named Best Children's Book of
the year  by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers
Association [PNBA] and was a PBS television "Storytime"
selection during 1996-2001. Another award was the Washington State
Governor's Writer's Award.
Paul Owen Lewis has published seven books for children,
including Frog Girl, a campion to this book. Towards the backof this
book, he notes, "common to all the world's mythologies is the
Adventure of the Hero, whose pattern of experience renownedscholar
Joseph Campbell describes the three rites of passage: separation,
initiation, and return." He also notes that in no placeis this
universal theme more powerfully represented than in the rich oral
traditions and bold graphic art of the Haida, Tlinget,and other
Native peoples of the Northwest Coast of North America."
Paul also gives a description of the Northwest Coast motifs of
Separation, "wandering too far from the village invitessupernatural
encounters," mysterious entrance to the Spirit World. A paragraph
explaining the Initiation, animals encountered in human form and
exchange of gifts and culture-"potlatching." Another paragraph of
Return, object given to assist return, mysterious return by "wishing
continually", time is out of joint, and claiming of a crest.
This book was carefully composed entirely of Native story
elements both in narrative and art. He gives special thanks to Bill
Holm and Jay Haavik for sharing their knowledge and encouragement,
also to Chris Landon, Native cultural advisor, and tothe Northwest
Coast people and culture. There is also a Teacher's Guide for this
book available from Ten Speed Press.
At the last page he has a killer whale design and he dedicates
this book for Kyle and LeAnn and portions of the proceedsis donated
to the Haida Gwaii Rediscovery program for tribal youth. The summary
of this story is about a young American Nativeboy is thrown from his
canoe during an ocean storm and is washed ashore under a strange sky
near a village inhibited by verylarge people who welcomes him.
These very large people are the killer whale people who
welcomes him into their village and greets him as being a chief,
since he is the chief's son. Everything is large in this village and
the giant people seem to have been waiting for him. He soon becomes
homesick, missing his family, so the chief tells him how to get home.
It is a interesting mystic adventureof sharing and learning from each
other. This book represents the rich mythic traditions of the Pacific
Northwest Coast Native people, the Haida, Tlinget and other Natives
of this region. Mr. Lewis's artwork expresses the culture with
colorful totem poles,traditional regalia the dancers are wearing, the
traditional boat the boy uses, his paddle, and headdresses the
The reading level is 3.8, is recognized as a Accelerator
reading book for our supplementary Accelerator Reading Program for
our school. For Educators, Teachers can implement, "Storm Boy" in
with a Literacy Program where students are given an opportunity to
learn of Alaska's Pacific Northwest's Native People while studying
Literature units on Legends orfiction trade books of a Culture.
Another learning intergration would benefit the Art studies for
Alaskan Native Art work and style and for Social Studies/Geogaphy for
Alaska Studies.Ed 493
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.