Posts Tagged ‘The Rough-Face Girl’

Thanksgiving, already?

I’ve dragged out all those books, along with my nonfiction and fiction about Indians, since our Indian jackets, necklaces, headbands, and drums are ready to go. Yes, it’s craft season in the classroom, but also time to give them some sense of how various Indian tribes lived and to convey the notion that tribal life–homes, clothing, food–varied due to location. So I contrast the tribes of the Northeast with other Indian peoples and use fiction to support that.

One of the most beautifully illustrated books in my collection is The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon, and a retelling of an Algonquin folktale.

An Invisible Being lives near this Algonquin village, and every young maiden wishes to marry him–but in order to do that, the young woman he chooses must have seen him.

Enter the two cruel older sisters and the younger sister who has been the fire tender of the family–and is covered with scars from the burns she has received over the years.

Does it remind you of Cinderella?

You bet. The two older sisters attempt to lie their way into becoming the bride of the Invisible Being, and fail. The youngest, who must make do with her father’s remaining broken bits of shells and too-large moccasins, is mocked as she leaves the village. But because she, of all the people, can see the Invisible Being, the tale ends with her being the chosen bride.

After the reading–in which certain vocabulary words need explaining and the image of the Invisible Being’s face merged with her world needs to be pointed out–I always ask what story this sounds like, and there’s usually at least one child who can connect it to Cinderella.

The illustrations, though, make this book. The youngest daughter, scars and all, is beautiful. The natural phenomena that surround the village and reflect the Invisible Being are also images of beauty.

One of the best illustrated books ever and well worth a place in your child’s or classroom’s library. And then, right after reading this one, pull out The Mud Pony or Raven.


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