Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Hunter’s Promise: An Abenaki Tale

Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
Farnsworth, Bill (Illustrator)
Wisdom Tales 2015. 32 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781937786434 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 974
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Folklore

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

As the author’s note explains, this is the retelling of a traditional tale common to many Indigenous nations. It tells the story of a hunter who travels deep into the woods to hunt every winter and returns each spring to his tribe. One winter, a mysterious woman appears, keeps him company throughout the winter and tells him not to forget her when he leaves. The same thing happens the next year, but this time she presents him with a boy, his son.

The text has the distinct flavour of a fable: “Each day, when he awoke, he found food prepared by his wife. Each night, when he came home, everything was in order. The skins had been scraped, the meat was drying, food was waiting for him.” There are many mystical elements: his son, who grows into a man in the span of a week, and the chief’s daughter’s spirit helper who makes the hunter forget about his winter wife so they can marry. In the final scene, the hunter, his winter wife and their two sons transform into moose.

The illustrations are done in oil paints with broad brushstrokes, creating textured landscapes that change with the seasons. Fall is burning with reds and oranges, while winter features purple-clouded skies with white and grey snow-covered ground, sometimes with light shining through the trees. The details are imprecise, so that while facial expressions are obscured, there is a strong sense of mood in each scene. The final illustration shows just four sets of moose prints in the sun-dappled snow.

  •  

    What is a legend? Discuss why legends are passed on and how they are different from other narratives.

  •  

    Take a picture walk and notice how the details in the evocative illustrations reveal the story.

  •  

    Legends are an important part of many cultures and societies. Write a legend about an animal of your choice, using the same style.

  •  

    The chief’s daughter cast a spell on the hunter so that he would marry her. Write an argument explaining why what she did was right or wrong. Be prepared to read your piece and defend your position.

  •  

    Examine the cover page before reading. What promise might the hunter be making? To whom? 

  •  

    What is a legend? Discuss why legends are passed on and how they are different from other narratives.

  •  

    Describe the hunter’s personality using apt adjectives to describe him. What animal would you compare him to? Make a totem pole for him and one for you.

  •  

    Using an interactive whiteboard and an online mapping tool, identify the regions inhabited by the Abenaki peoples.

  •  How can you relate to this legend about the consequences of not keeping a promise? Reflect and write about it in your journal.
  •  

    Research other First Nations legends. Select one and present it in comic strip format. Share these on a class wall.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Social Sciences