by Gerald Hausman & Ramon Shiloh, illustrator
Wisdom Tales Press 10/01/2013
Age 4 to 8 36 pages
“Based on a traditional story from the Creek Indians of northern Florida and Georgia, ‘The Otter, the Spotted Frog, & the Great Flood’ tells the tale of Listener the Otter, the only animal that heeds the warnings of Spotted Frog. Ridiculed by the other animals, Listener begins to build a raft to try and survive the impending disaster. But will his effort be enough?”
“There were two animal people who lived in the long ago. One was Listener, a river otter. The other was Honors Himself, a buffalo chief.”
In the span of four days, Listener and Honors Himself would take different actions upon hearing the prophecy of Spotted Frog. Listener was the only one who had the ability to understand the frogs’ singing. Spotted Frog sang,
“A Great Flood is coming.
Soon it will cover the land.
I sing so that you can save yourselves.”
Honors Himself, who claims to hate frogs, throws Spotted Frog into the fire, but no matter how many times he does this, Spotted Frog remains unharmed. Honors Himself refuses to believe the prophecy though Other Woman tries to understand but can see no sign of rain. Listener reacted differently. He ass Spotted Frog to repeat the prophecy and then does exactly what Spotted Frog tells him to do—build a raft.
Honors Himself calls Listener a fool and the other animals laugh at Listener. Through it all, Listener continues to build his raft and follows all of what Spotted Frog tells him. Soon it starts to rain, lightly at first and then heavier. The ground swells with water and the swamp becomes a great lake. Water covers the land and rises. What becomes of the other animals, Listener, Honors Himself, and Other Woman?
The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian Story tells the story of the flood and Noah’s Ark. It is an original story from the Creek Indians. Other Native Indian tribes have similar stories. Listener follows the prophet Spotted Frog, just as Noah followed God’s orders to build an ark. Honors Himself is the perfect name for those that followed only what they could see or knew, rejecting everything else. Honors Himself becomes so upset he tries to kill the prophet Spotted Frog. That reminds me of a saying, from who I do not know, that says not to kill the messenger.
The story also explains how man—the two-leggeds—came to exist. There is so much symbolism in The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood that this book is best for middle grades and above. I think younger children will understand the straightforward story of the Great Flood but not that of the birth of people—the two-leggeds. The transformation of Listener to a man might even test middle grade students. The Great Flood is the majority of the story and it is interesting. Listener ties his raft to a strong tree and rises up to the dome of the sky, safe from passing through it and never returning. With the rope, Listener connects to the tall, mighty oak—a higher spirit, who in turn protects Listener
Teachers might find The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood a good book when teaching Native Indian traditions and teachings. This book also lends itself to the study of symbolism. The illustrations visually interpret the story giving the book an unmistakable folktale style. With the text, The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood will entertain the reader while instructing on the power of Mother Nature and of listening to her, to those more knowledgeable than oneself, and to a Higher Power. Animal stories have a way of capturing a child’s attention, so it is no surprise the Creek Indians used animals in this story.
I found The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood to be an interesting story that required a slower, more thoughtful reading, and even a second reading to fully comprehend all of the symbolism used. This is a beautiful book. The bright illustrations that will catch a child’s eye, just as the use of animals will hold their attention. The heavier pages will withstand grabbing by little hands.
Learn more about The Otter, the Spotted Frog, & the Great Flood HERE.
THE OTTER, THE SPOTTED FROG & THE GREAT FLOOD: A CREEK INDIAN STORY. Text copyright © 2013 by Gerald Hausman. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Ramon Shiloh. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Wisdom Tales Press, Bloomington, IN.