Solomon's Tree

SKU: 155143380X

Andrea Spalding
Grade Levels:
One, Two, Three, Four
Pacific NW, Tsimshian
Book Type:
Orca Book Publishers

Sale price$10.95


Solomon's Tree was selected for the 2004 First Nation Communities Read program by Ontario's First Nations Public Libraries. Their endorsement of this title is well justified. In this contemporary story set on the Northwest Coast, a Native boy learns about the cycle of life and traditional art when a special maple tree is felled during a storm. Solomon is an only child in a warm and loving Northwest Coast Native family. He finds hours of joy and comfort as he plays in the family's large maple tree. Solomon climbs the tree and spends hours watching the cycle of nature as it is revealed in the changing seasons. The tree is home to a hummingbird family as well as a chrysalis that metamorphoses into a butterfly. The tree speaks and sings as wind blows through its branches. In fall the colourful maple showers the boy in falling leaves. All this comes to end when a storm topples the beloved tree. Solomon is devastated but his thoughtful uncle shows the boy that the tree's spirit can be honoured by creating a traditional mask. Solomon's uncle is a master carver and together they work on carving a wooden mask. Solomon helps chisel and oil the mask and explains his special relationship with the giant maple. During the process his uncle teaches him Northwest Coast songs and teachings about the creation of a mask. When the mask is complete, the family gathers to watch as Solomon wears the mask and dances in the spring sunshine. In the earth beneath the child's feet, a new tree sprouts from a tiny seed. The story details were meticulously researched by the author, Andrea Spalding, who took a mask making workshop with Tsimpshian (Tsimshian) master carver Victor Reece. Reece created a mask specifically for the story and it is pictured on the back cover. In the author's note she describes the process of mask carving and some of the designs that are incorporated throughout the book. Illustrator Janet Wilson adapted Northwest Coast art designs and these images appear below each page of text. Wilson's depiction of a contemporary Northwest Coast Native family and the artistic process involved in mask carving capture the warmth and love of this Native family. An excellent book that deals with the cycle of nature, friendship, loss, healing, and the Native artistic tradition.

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