Bloomsbury Review: The People of Twelve Thousand Winters
The Bloomsbury Review (Sep 2013)
This is the story of Walking Turtle, who introduces himself by stating, We are the Lenni Lenape, which means “we the people.” Through the snows of twelve thousand winters we have kept our fires burning. To me, twelve thousand winters is a long, long time. I, myself, am only ten winters.
The narrator describes his village, his lodge, and his chores, giving the reader a strong sense of culture and place. At Walking Turtle’s naming ceremony, he was told, He shall carry his people on his back, as steady and sure as a hard-shelled turtle that walks over land toward water.
The story line involves the bond between Walking Turtle and Little Talk, his cousin, who was born with a foot deformity, leaving Walking Turtle to carry him around, though at times it seems “like Little Talk is carrying me.” This is a tale short on action and drama but strong it its portrayal of a way of life, made especially interesting with the vivid painterly style of the illustrations, strongly provoking a bygone classic era in children’s book art.