Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review: Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale

Title: Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale
Tale Told By: Greg Rodgers
Illustrator: Leslie Stall Widener
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Pages: 40
Review Copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss
Release Date: June 24, 2014

Review: I'm always on the lookout for great folktales to add to our library collection. Teachers use them in every grade level and it's helpful to have a wide variety. We are especially watching for authentic tales from many different cultures. I was happy to hear about this title in April through a review by Debbie Reese, When I saw it listed on Edelweiss, I knew I had to take a look.

Trickster Tales are generally a lot of fun and this is no exception. Chukfi Rabbit is a selfish and lazy critter. It is interesting to see him working his schemes and readers will be wondering if he will get away with his tricks or not.

Before the story begins, the author does a little bit of explaining about the names in the story. "The people who told this story a long time ago were Choctaw and so they used the Choctaw words for Rabbit, Fox, Bear...." He also explains that sometimes they used the Choctaw word, sometimes English, and sometimes both together. I have been trying to expose my students to many languages through picture books and this is a great example to use. As Rodgers says, by the end of the story, readers may have some new Choctaw words in their vocabulary. Of course we will all know how to say rabbit.

When the story opens, Ms. Shukata Possum needs a new house. Many friends agreed to get together and help build her house. Aside from being a trickster tale, this is also a tale of community and friendship. Chukfi Rabbit is much too busy to help though until he hears that there will be food involved. He is especially interested in the fresh homemade butter. Given his selfishness and laziness, you can easily imagine what he plans to avoid and what he plans to get for himself. His antics are amusing and the results are even more so.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful and also reflect the Choctaw culture. One example is the clothing that the animals are wearing featuring diamond trim. The aprons, hats and other accessories also show this as Debbie Reese noted.

I am excited to be adding this to our collection of Trickster Tales. I know that the teachers will be glad to have another Trickster to share and the students will enjoy meeting him.

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