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When God Made the Dakotas    by Tim Kessler & Paul Morin order for
When God Made the Dakotas
by Tim Kessler
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This gorgeously illustrated picture book is a Native American tale about creation. The Great Spirit, Wakantanka, creator of the world, had one empty space to fill - land for the Dakota Nation. Their medicine man, Woksape, is allowed to ask for the type of land he would like for his people - such as a land of rich forests, of many lakes, or canyon country. However, every time Woksape asks for a specific type of land, he is told by the Great Spirit that it is already taken.

Finally he says to the Creator, 'Oh, Great Spirit, it is you who have made all that is. All who walk the earth know your generosity. You are great and wonderful and loving. Give to your people, the Dakotas, whatever you have left to give and it will be good.' Ultimately, the Dakota nation receives the vast prairie lands that make up the Dakotas, along with buffalo and other life essentials, for which Woksape gives thanks.

This beautiful story is an ode to nature and a lesson to be thankful for what God has given us - regardless of the reader's religious or other beliefs about creationism. The mature subject
gears the book toward a slightly older child than the typical picture book audience, though all children should be able to relate to the message, even at a minimal level.

The deep-hued canvas life-like illustrations in When God Made the Dakotas are of museum quality, and are perhaps some of the best illustrations I have come across in the world of children's picture books.

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