Monday, February 28, 2011


Trickster is a graphic collection of Native American folktales featuring tricksters in one form or another.  Each tale was written by a Native American storyteller and paired with illustrations by artists selected by the authors.  And what a wonderful book it is!

The stories come from many different parts of the country and are told in different styles, some in a traditional narrative style, others using more modern language.  The stories are as varied as the artistic styles.  There are creation tales, such as the opening story, which features coyote and the story of how the stars came to be.  And there are classic trickster stories, such as how rabbit tricked the alligator, who wouldn't let any of the animals near the river to drink.  Clever rabbit makes sure that the alligator gets what's coming to him!

This is a fantastic collection of stories.  The artwork is fabulous, and there is a wide variety of styles that truly suit the tone and subject matter of each tale.  I was surprised and delighted to see a tale included that is from Hawaii, where I used to live.  Native Hawaiian culture is so often overlooked, and last year when one of my children had a class assignment to research a Native American culture, she was disappointed that she wasn't allowed to do native Hawaiians.  (Native Hawaiians do not have specific rights comparable to many other native peoples - if you're interested in learning more about it, click here).  Hawaii has such a rich cultural heritage, so it was great to read the story, set on the Big Island, of the very clever dog Puapualenalena.

I would have loved a little snippet at the beginning of each story that told a little bit about its history and where it came from.  I did like that at the back of the book there was an informative biographical paragraph about each author and artist.  I'll definitely be looking up more work by the talented contributors to this collection.

My library shelves this book in the adult section, which I suppose is good because it makes it available to adults who might not normally pick up a graphic novel.  But it is certainly appropriate for younger readers, as well.  Both of my daughters read this before I did (as often happens with graphic novels, they grabbed the book and ran off with it before I could read it - and honestly, I love when that happens!), and they both enjoyed it.  Some stories teach a lesson, and some tell how things got to be the way they are today; some are funny, some a little sad, some full of action and adventure.  What's not to like?

Take a look at this last image below - doesn't it remind you of Charles de Lint's books?  Maybe he'll do a graphic novel some day - I'd love that.  At any rate, this is an excellent collection of Native American trickster tales, and I highly recommend it!

Trickster edited by Matt Dembicki (Fulcrum Books, 2010)

Also reviewed at:
American Indians in Children's Literature:  "I like the book very much, with one quibble...The designer didn't provide information about each story's origin with the story."
Amy Reads:  "...these Native American tales don’t all have a moral, and I liked that. it was interesting to read these short, simple trickster tales and have the trickster come out on top sometimes." 
Capricious Reader:  "Many of these stories have some of the most incredible art I’ve seen in any such collection or comic book or graphic novel." 


  1. Oh, this sounds like something I would really like!

  2. Kailana - I think you would. It's good stuff! :-)

  3. Wow, this looks very cool. Thanks for reviewing it.

  4. i hope my little girl loves reading like A & Q! taking the books, brilliant!

  5. Janicu - It is! I hope you'll get the chance to read it soon.

    VA Gal - Oh, just read and read to her, and of course she'll love it! :)

  6. Mariel - Absolutely!


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