How did horses first appear to the tribes of the North American plains? According to the traditional stories of the Blackfoot Indians, a wise man dreamed of strange animals in a far-off land: they were as tall and strong as elks, but could be tamed to drag tipi poles like dogs and ridden to hunt buffalo. After traveling for many days, he came across the strange animals drinking at a lake. Managing to catch first one, and then the whole herd, he brought them back to the tribe. In the traditional world of the American Indians, storytelling was of fundamental importance for recording the history of the tribe, as well as interpreting their interactions with the natural world around them.
In this final collection of “stories from the tipi,” Caldecott-medal winner Paul Goble masterfully brings to life 23 traditional stories from the Blackfoot, Lakota, Assiniboin, Pawnee, Winnebago, Omaha, Hidatsa, and Cheyenne nations. Throughout, we witness how perfectly attuned the Native Americans were to the natural world around them. For, in the words of Black Elk, the holy man of the Lakota: “One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these may have a valuable lesson to teach us, and even the smallest ant may wish to communicate with man.”
“Gr 2–5—For his third collection of ‘Stories from the Tipi,’ Goble has selected 23 traditional tales that reflect the diversity of the folklore of the Great Plains. Stories drawn from the oral traditions of the Blackfoot, Lakota, Pawnee, and other Plains nations illuminate the beliefs, values, and histories of these cultures. Though dreams and dreamers are a thematic thread, the stories are diverse in topic and varied in length. Goble’s signature illustrations provide artistic unity, balancing the brevity of the stories with imaginative details and warm, inviting colors. Gentle, chatty introductions to several of the stories supply cultural context while preserving the oral tone of the collection. Model source notes appear at the end, confirming Lauren Waukau-Villagomez’s assertion, in her foreword, that Goble's ‘stories and illustrations are culturally correct and significant.’ This book serves as an excellent introduction to the rich cultural traditions of the Great Plains, and as a valuable resource for storytellers looking for respectful renditions of Native American tales.”
—School Library Journal, from a review by Rachael Vilmar, Easter Shore Regional Library, Salisbury, MD
“Caldecott winner Goble (The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses) presents another group of stories from Plains Indians. The titular tale explains the coming of horses (‘elk-dogs’). Many other stories concern themselves with animals, and some with spirits. An appropriately wee tale relates an incident involving a mouse chief. All the stories are accompanied by Goble’s stunning paintings, which employ simple lines and earthy, matte colors. Goble is not Native American, but has won praise from the Native community for his cultural accuracy. A foreword by Menominee Indian and children’s literature professor Lauren Waukau-Villagomez endorses his work; a page of references lists his sources. The book is text-intensive, but the illustrations invite reader engagement. This is a friendly introduction for younger students of world religions. Wisdom Tales is a new children’s imprint. Ages 8–up.”
“The Man Who Dreamed of Elk-Dogs & Other Stories from the Tipi is a collection of 23 traditional stories from traditions of the Blackfoot, Lakota, Assiniboin, Pawnee, Winnebago, Omaha, Hidatsa, and Cheyenne nations. Sensitively retold and magnificently illustrated by Caldecott-medal winner, author/artist Paul Goble, The Man Who Dreamed of Elk-Dogs & Other Stories from the Tipi continues to create beautiful, authentic renditions of valuable pieces of Native American wisdom in ‘perfect attunement with the natural world around them.’ A treasure to be shared with all ages, here are 23 traditional stories from multiple Plains Indian tribes, illustrated with 45 brilliant color paintings and a stringent foreword that unequivocally describes Goble's stories and illustrations as ‘culturally correct and significant,’ while ‘His depiction of Native Americans is respectful and fair.’ Foreword author Lauren Waukau-Villagomez goes on to say that although Paul Goble is no Native American, ‘he has the heart of a Native American.’ The Man Who Dreamed of Elk-Dogs & Other Stories from the Tipi continues this valuable practice in contributing gems and nuggets of preserved Native American stories and teaching tales, with the voice of a careful story teller who shows respect for the authentic voice of Native peoples. An interesting addition to these stories is the italicized asides that the author uses to explain some of the important concepts or beliefs illustrated by the story, or to underline inconsistencies or differences between views held by different tribes and peoples. This beautiful edition is sure to enrich all multi-cultural children's collections in libraries [that are] personal, public and educational.”
—Children’s Bookwatch (an online book review magazine of The Midwest Book Review)
“Elk Dogs is the third and final book in the trilogy of tipi stories by award winning author, Paul Goble. Preceded by The Boy and His Mud Horses and The Woman Who Lived with Wolves, these 23 traditional Plains Indian stories contain many valuable life lessons. The author reminds us: ‘Unlike Aesop, Indian people do not point out the moral of a story; instead it is there for you, dear Reader and Listeners, to think about for yourselves.’ And think we must when we read about the mosquitoes and the doves (Blackfoot) and the Lakota story of the raccoon and the crayfish. The Cheyenne story, ‘Saved by Their Dogs’, leads to the conclusion, ‘Remember, we will never again eat dogs, except for special occasions.’
“The author's commentaries, at the beginning and end of many stories are insightful and helpful. In the Author's Note, Mr. Goble advises the reader, ‘I have only chosen the stories which I feel fit comfortably with today's thinking, avoiding stories which involve revenge or killing, and others which need specific knowledge of the culture. Again, the stories are abbreviated; oral tellings would have been much longer.’
“As always, the illustrations of the animals, insects, birds and plant are first class. The view from the bottom of a hole, looking up at the faces of wolves, foxes, badgers and birds in the Blackfoot story, ‘The Wolf-Man’, is clever and original. And if you appreciate native material culture, the people with their shirts, dresses, leggings, wearing blankets, hairstyles, and tipis reflect a lifetime of research and careful study.
“Last, what makes this book so special and bittersweet is (according to the author) [that it is] going to be his last. Health issues have made writing, drawing and painting increasingly difficult and not to the high standard he established for himself. What a legacy! Going back to 1969 and his first book, Custer's Last Battle, to the present, Paul Goble has written and illustrated 35 plus books that honor this stated commitment: ‘I wrote the book for Indian children because I wanted them to know about and feel proud of the courage of their ancestors’.
“It is my hope that Paul will continue to share his insights and commentaries on his old fashioned typewriter, as he begins the next chapter of his distinguished career.
“In his story, ‘The Horse Lodge’ (Blackfoot), the four virtues people strived for in life were: Kindness, Patience, Wisdom and Generosity. Paul and his devoted wife, Janet, have lived these values and are role models for the rest of us.
“On behalf of all of your readers, native and non-native: Thank You!”
—Peter Durkin, from a review in Whispering Wind magazine