Artist Paul Goble's picture books beautifully tell or retell Native American story themes and legends, particularly those of the Plains Indian culture. The illustrations are absolutely stunning, works of art in a style that is both original and echoes the style of traditional native American art. Not only is the art gorgeous, the pictures are meticulously researched, depicting the land and the native people with their clothing, shelter, and belongings as accurately as possible. One of my favorite things about Goble's books is that they rarely just tell the story-- his books also offer background information about the history and culture of the tales he's written and the people who told them long ago. We usually come home from the library with one or more of Goble's books. On the shelf right now:
I Sing for the Animals. "All things in nature reflect their Creator. Everything tells us something about God." The first lines of the book. The facing page shows a still lake. I Sing for the Animals is a prayer of reverence for God in nature, accompanied by beautiful peaceful nature illustrations in Goble's distinctive style.
Storm Maker's Tipi. A story of Sacred Otter and his son, who meet Storm Maker, Bringer of Blizzards. Storm Maker commands Sacred Otter to teach his people how to decorate their tipis. Storm Maker's Tipi is a lovely story in its own right, and the book also begins with drawings of the materials the Blackfoot people used to build their tipis, and ends with a photograph of tipis pitched in a Blackfoot summer camp, a template and instructions for building a paper model tipi, and tipi songs from the Lakota and Kiowa people.
Crow Chief. A story of how Falling Star, a legendary savior figure, saves the people from starvation, and of how crows became black. The book finishes with songs about the crow from several different tribes.
I wish I could write about each of Goble's picture books, as they're marvelous. But he's a prolific author-illustrator, as his bibliography shows. Other favorites:
Buffalo Woman. A story of a young hunter who marries a lovely buffalo turned woman. She is shunned by his tribe, and so she returns to her people. This is a beautiful story, about love and acceptance, enhanced by the stunning illustrations. It's one of my favorites to read.
Buffalo Woman literature lesson plan here.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. This book won the 1979 Caldecott medal, and deservedly so. It is absolutely lovely. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is the story of a young girl who tends the horses and loves them so that she eventually joins them. It was a favorite of horse-crazy lovely lady's when she was younger.
All of Goble's books featuring Iktomi the Trickster are favorites with the fine young gents, and they're fun to read out loud. Iktomi is a trickster in Lakota legends, a common figure in Native American tales and legends as trickster figures are in tales around the world. But Iktomi isn't a clever wiley trickster, at least not in Goble's tellings. Iktomi is a slapstick figure, just plain not all that bright sometimes. My favorite: Iktomi and the Boulder.
Paul Goble at the Museum of Nebraska Art
From Carol Hurst's Children's Literature site, Native American teaching ideas.