When I saw the title, The Canoe Maker, and the illustration on the cover, I thought this book, published by Maine Authors Publishing, was a children’s book. But authors Jean Flahive and Donald Soctomah have written a book that both adults and children will find fascinating.
This may be a true story, because the main character, David Moses Bridges, was a native American artist who received national recognition for his work. I remember seeing some of his art at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend that you visit. It has very interesting displays, including canoes.
This story is about Bridges teaching his young son, Tobias, how to build a canoe in the traditional way. They start out hiking through the woods looking for the perfect birch tree and gathering spruce roots, Cedar, and spruce gum. Yes this is what they use to build canoes.
I loved the story of the partridge, who was the first Canoe maker. And when David and Tobias finish their canoe, a partridge flies over to check it out.
Both Jean Flahive and Donald Soctomah have written other children’s books. One of my favorites is Jean’s The Old Mainer and the Sea. Donald is the Passamaquoddy tribal historic preservation officer was also authored several tribal history books. In 2015 he was presented with a lifetime cultural achievement award in Washington DC.
The book’s illustrations are especially great. Illustrator Mari Dieumegard also illustrated the Old Mainer and the Sea.
You probably won’t ever build a canoe this way, but you will always love this book.