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Beyond the Ridge by Paul Goble

Beyond the Ridge

by Paul Goble

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BEYOND THE RIDGE, written and illustrated by Paul Goble, is a picture book that is based on the customs and beliefs of the Plains Indian people regarding death and the after-life. The story follows an elderly woman who is dying and is called away from this world by the distant voice of her deceased mother. The voice leads her farther from her tipi where her family is mourning her death, towards a ridge. Once she has reached the top, the woman peers out over a land more beautiful than anything she has seen before. Intermingled with this story are pages of italicized text that are, as the author explains, words "spoken by Indian people". These particular pages of the book are very eloquent, and explain a bit more deeply how the Plains Indians view death, or rather, a "change of worlds". I liked the way Goble focused on the journey of the old woman but also returned to the mourning family and described their emotions during this time. It sends the message that it is ok to be sad and full of emotions when someone dies. But also that death is natural and we need to accept that. The illustrations for this book, done in watercolor and ink, are interesting because they are very detailed in all aspects but one. When it comes to the people's faces, Goble leaves them almost completely featureless and without expression. In his author's note, he implies that his purpose for doing this is to allow the reader to imagine their own "personality" for the characters. Although the vocabulary in this book is rather simple, I would use it in a slightly older classroom, perhaps second or third grade, because of the subject matter and discussion that should follow this reading. Although the topic of death is sad, it is something important to talk about with kids because they will all experience it at some point in their lives, if they haven't already. This book depicts death as happening at the end of a long life, but it is also important to talk to students about how this isn't always the case. Then, on a lighter note, I could turn to the subject of Native American traditions and beliefs. I could ask students about any traditions or beliefs that they and their families may have that are similar or different to those described in the book. ( )
  mmiller28 | Sep 15, 2015 |
This sensitive treatment of death and the afterlife is based on a Plains Indian view of the Spirit World, a fertile and beautiful land of buffalo, birds, and butterflies. The author/illustrator cites sources for the ideas presented and the material culture depicted. ...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689717318, Paperback)

"The concept of the long climb of someone who is dying is one which we can understand. You walk gradually, and seemingly endlessly, upwards to a distant ridge." This is a vision of that other land Beyond the Ridge.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:22 -0400)

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At her death an elderly Plains Indian woman experiences the afterlife believed in by her people, while the surviving family members prepare her body according to their custom.

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