Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How Not to Catch Fish and other Adventures of Iktomi

{Note: This review is used by permission of its author and may not be published elsewhere without her written permission.)


Marshall, Joseph M. (Lakota), How Not to Catch Fish and Other Adventures of Iktomi, illustrated by Joseph Chamberlain (Nakota). Circle Studios, 2005. 55 pages, color illustrations, grades 4-up; Dakota

“As usual, Iktomi was having an Iktomi sort of a day—doing as little as possible.” You see, Iktomi is a “non-farmer, non-hunter, and non-fisherman” (i.e., he has no useful skills nor does he have the drive to learn any). In these hilarious stories, Iktomi—ever hungry and/or sleepy—is swallowed by the largest catfish he has ever seen, is forced to return a Grade A premium piece of meat he had stolen, is trapped between two ash trees (because he annoyed Wind once too often), forgets to believe he can fly (with the expected results), apologizes to Old Bear (who is not exactly the forgiving type). Et cetera.

In one of my favorites, Iktomi, convinced that Pond is playing tricks on him, seeks out the advice of Rabbit:

“Various environmental and seasonal climactic factors contributed to the visual representation of your reflection in the pond, thus skewing your perception of the aforementioned reflection.” Iktomi was totally confused.

Don’t be put off by the length of each story; Marshall’s pacing is perfect. Along with a CD of Marshall telling the stories, How Not to Catch Fish is way better than anything cultural outsiders—like Paul Goble—who don’t know Iktomi have ever written.—Beverly Slapin

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