Reviews

When the Spirits Dance

Patty Osborne

When the Spirits Dance (Theytus) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, the second book in a series of stories from Loyie’s childhood, paints a gentle picture of life in a First Nations community in northern Alberta during World War II. One night a train takes Larry’s father away to fight in the war and young Larry is left to help his mother, grandmother and three sisters cope with food shortages and the frightening presence of army deserters, who hide out in the bush and steal from Larry’s family. He finds solace in the beauty of the land and reassurance in family rituals: collecting birch sap to make syrup, listening to music on a battery-operated radio and walking to the post office to pick up the mail; and with the help of his grandparents he is comforted by the spirits of his ancestors. This memorable but unassuming book is illustrated with faded photographs of Loyie’s family, and a tiny glossary at the back gives English translations for Kokum (Grandmother), Mosoom (Grandfather), tansi (hello) and other Cree words.

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