Reviews

The Gathering Tree

Patty Osborne

The Gathering Tree by Larry Loyie (Theytus Books) was initiated by Chee Mamuk, an organization that provides aboriginal communities with culturally appropriate education about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and there is a long list of advisors at the back of the book. The purpose of the book is to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Native communities; with all these people involved one might expect the book to be heavy with important messages, but Loyie and his co-writer, Constance Brissenden, have created a simple, believable story about Robert, a young man with HIV who returns to his Native community to attend a gathering and to speak to his people about his disease. The two children in the story learn about traditional Native culture while they learn about Robert’s modern disease. The story is illustrated with luscious acrylic paintings by Heather D. Holmlund that make you feel like you’re right there with the kids, beside the river, smelling the cedar boughs and eating fresh salmon.

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