A Review By: Amelia
I’ve recently deleved into Apache culture for a story I’m writing and I must say the folklore is fascinating (although I’m a fan of almost all worldly folklore). And because I’m such a softie underneath it all I was especially drawn to a particular love story called The Flute Player. Luckily, a beautifully illustrated children’s book was there to help me appreciate it to the fullest.
Put very simply, The Flute Player tells a tale of love and lose that the author, Lacapa Michael, remembers from his childhood.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Michael and his family moved to Whiteriver, Arizona, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation at the age of one. Michael became well known for writing and illustrating many children's books, including: The Mouse Couple, the award winning The Flute Player, and Antelope Woman. Years ago, Michael was instrumental in organizing the first Native American Arts and Crafts Festival in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona, which continues today as an annual tradition. He was sought after nationally and internationally by storyteller's conventions to tell his wonderful native stories, many of which were based on his own experiences. He sadly passed away in 2005. Of her late husband's artistic vision, Kathy Lacapa says..."His philosophy was...'Always write about what you know, be true to your culture or region and never let go of your imagination'. "
In an effort to keep Michael's legacy alive, AAWM has established a scholarship fund in his name to benefit any resident within the greater White Mountains area wishing to pursue a higher education in the arts.
The story of The Flute Player is one heard through every civilization that’s ever existed: a love that couldn’t be. It’s essentially boy and girl meet, boy and girl share a special secret, boy and girl lose each other, but boy and girl live on into eternity. The Flute Player goes a little deeper though. Since it’s a folktale from the Apache culture it’s used as a way to explain a certain element of nature. This story uses the lovers to explain the sound that the wind makes while whistling through canyons.
The art style is aesthetically so wonderful. The colours are vivid and the lines so perfectly straight. The art is also full of geometric patterns that draw the eye across the page. It’s just all quite lovely and definitely not something you see every day. It might not be something that’s immediately going to appeal to children but I’m a twenty-four year old, so what do I know about children right?
My final thoughts on The Flute Player are that it is such a great book. The artwork is beautiful and unique, the story comes from actual Apache mythology (and I loves me some mythology), and it really is such a simple and respectful way to teach others about a different culture. Definitely a child’s book worth looking into!