BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Moose of Ewenki by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, illustrated by Jiu Er, translated by Helen Mixter [in Shelf Awareness]

Moose of Ewenki Gerelchimeg Blackcrane BookDragon*STARRED REVIEW
From the Reindeer Ewenki people of remote, mountainous Inner Mongolia comes a glorious tale about an aging hunter and the baby moose that followed him home. During an all-night hunting trip, Gree Shek killed a moose, not knowing she had calved out of season. Too young to be afraid, the baby somehow trusted that Gree Shek and his loyal dog would be his protectors. Gree Shek named him Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) and raised him with the Ewenki’s reindeer herds, though the moose never wandered far from Gree Shek’s side. When an injury sends Gree Shek to the village settlement for treatment, Xiao Han won’t be left behind … but the human world proves full of dangers. As the elderly Gree Shek grows weaker, he must figure out how to keep Xiao Han safe.

Real-life stories of motherless animal/human bonds have long provided literary inspiration. More unusual perhaps, is The Moose of Ewenki, not only because of the unexpected creature and its rarely depicted traditional surroundings, but also for the book’s provenance: while Gerelchimeg Blackcrane (Black Flame) is a significant, bestselling author in China, his Mongolian background is a rarity among translated international children’s writers. His extraordinary narrative is gorgeously paired with Chinese sculptor/painter Jiu Er’s exquisitely detailed illustrations that rely on a simple palette of browns, greens, and pinks to create resonating depth. Most hauntingly unforgettable are Xiao Han’s eyes as he matures from trembling calf to curious mischief-maker to trusting companion to forest guardian. Fair warning: tissues are an absolute must. An exceptionally affecting commemoration of unusual bonds, Blackcrane’s formidable U.S. picture book debut should engender increased demand for Western access to more of his dozens of titles.

Discover: Mongolian writer Gerelchimeg Blackcrane makes his U.S. picture book debut with this haunting story about a hunter and a young moose.

Review: “Children & Young Adult,” Shelf Awareness, October 1, 2019

Readers: Children

Published: 2019 (United States)


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