Cover image for The great canoe
The great canoe
Maggi, María Elena.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Douglas & McIntyre, [2001]

Physical Description:
35 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Translation of: La gran canoa.

"A Groundwood book".
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.M353 GR 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.M353 GR 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A long time ago, Kaputano, dweller of the heavens, warned that a great rain was coming. He urged the Karinas to help him build a canoe and gather seeds and animals, but only four couples agreed to help. Soon, the rains covered even the tallest trees. When the waters finally receded, Kaputano created a landscape of marshes, rivers, mountains, and trees to ensure that the tribe would prosper.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. Noah's story finds a close parallel in this folktale of the Karina, an indigenous people from eastern Venezuela and parts of the Caribbean. When Kaputano the Sky Dweller arrives in Karina land, he warns the people of devastating floods, but only four couples believe him. Together, they construct an enormous canoe and load it with representatives of each animal and plant. The floods come, destroying all but the life on the boat, and the survivors stand on barren land. In an interesting variation on the biblical story, the Karina's god allows the people to help shape their new world: "How do you want the world to be?" Children will enjoy comparing this simple, well-told story with the more familiar tale, and they'll pore over the rich cultural details in the scratchboard-style illustrations, whose muted colors and small scale lend themselves best to lap sharing. An extensive author's note concludes. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Calderon's intricately textured woodcuts enliven a Kari?a (an indigenous people who occupied eastern Venezuela on the Orinoco River) version of the Great Flood. Here, the "Sky Dweller" Kaputano prophesies the dreadful storm. Most of his listeners ridicule his predictions, but four couples join Kaputano in building a giant thatch-roofed canoe, filling it with "two of each kind of animal" and "a seed from each kind of plant." Unlike the dutiful Noah and his family, Kaputano's passengers complain about the barren world that remains after the floodwaters recede. "Where are the groves of palms whose leaves we weave into baskets and roofs? Where are the mountains on whose slopes we grow food?" Kaputano obliges his people with abundance, and the story ends happily with a moonlit dance. Calderon's (Buzz, Buzz, Buzz) gently tinted woodcuts, layered with a multitude of delicately etched lines depicting raging waves, sheets of rain and rays of sun, anchor the scenes firmly in the dramatic landscape. A striking image shows the canoe from the air, with the four couples hard at work around it, smoke billowing from the reed fire meant to hollow it out. First-time author Maggi provides a respectful retelling, and Calderon's work makes an exotic world seem close enough to touch. Ages 2-5. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-6-In this tale of the Kari-a people of Venezuela, Kaputano, the Sky Dweller, warns of a great rain that will soon fall. Only four couples believe his words and help construct a huge canoe. After taking two of each kind of animal plus seeds from all the plants, they board the vessel and ride out the storm. The rest of the people and animals perish in the rising waves. After the waters subside, Kaputano creates a luxuriant new world for the survivors, whose descendants celebrate its riches. Parallels to "Noah's Ark" are obvious and could lead to interesting comparisons, especially if one drew in additional versions from other cultures. However, Calder-n's striking illustrations are worth considering on their own merits. The majestic opening panorama sets the story in mythic time. The impending storm and powerful waves capture the intensity of the destruction while the verdant landscapes display the abundance of post-deluge life. A stunning example of a familiar story in an unfamiliar setting.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.