North America – Native American (Versions
of the tale are found in the folklore of the Cherokee, Abenaki, Mohawk, and Iroquois Nations).
Bruchac, Joseph and James. 2001.
How chipmunk got his stripes: A tale
of bragging and teasing. Illustrations by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey. New
York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
(out of ♥♥♥♥♥). (Picture taken from Amazon.com).
Bear and Brown Squirrel have a disagreement about whether Bear can stop the sun from rising, Brown Squirrel ends up with claw
marks on his back and becomes Chipmunk, the striped one” (Bruchac, CIP page).
characters do not show any depth. Bear is an overconfident braggart with abundant pride and a bad temper. Brown Squirrel loves
being “right,” and he engages in some foolish behavior. He challenges Bear, an animal many times his size. Next,
he teases Bear when the sun does rise, leading to a wild chase and an injury. However, Brown Squirrel is smart enough to trick
Setting: The setting is not specified in the text. In the illustrations, one sees a forest and
multicolored fall leaves. Readers learn that Brown Squirrel hibernates and comes out for spring. The setting seems to be the
American East Coast with its four seasons. In fact, in the Authors’ Notes, Joseph Bruchac writes that “The story
…is still widely told by Native American storytellers along the East Coast” (unpaged). The time frame is given
in the opening sentence: “One autumn day, long ago, Bear was out walking” (unpaged).
Plot: This is
a somewhat familiar plot with twists. There is a contest between two animals (or people), both with some undesirable personal
qualities. The smaller animal wins, but he rubs it in through teasing. The larger animal seeks vengeance, and the smaller
animal learns his lesson. The contest between the animals reminds me of Hogrogian’s Armenian tale, The Contest.
will lead to one’s downfall because no one can do (or be) everything. Also, when one wins, it is unkind and
unwise to tease the loser.
This book is enjoyable. The story has many oral elements such as repetition, sounds, and language, and the story “begs
to be told” (SLJ, 2001). In
fact, on the title page, it says “As told by Joseph Bruchac & James Bruchac” rather than “by”
the authors (unpaged). The illustrations are pleasant, but sometimes Bear’s “cartoonlike facial expressions seem
slightly inappropriate for the story” (Booklist, 2001).
Rendered in a cartoon style, the illustrations are warm, colorful, and humorous. Oliff notes that “Aruego and
Dewey’s vibrantly hued trademark watercolors add significantly to the humor” (SLJ,
2001). However, at times, Bear’s expression and buck teeth seem silly and distracting. One unforgettable two-page spread
depicts small, fearful Brown Squirrel, now a chipmunk, hugging his grandmother while a large eye looks down their burrow.