It is a powerful, emotional epic; a hero's life, his loves and suffering. The legends and traditions of the North American Indian swirl together through the tale like a mountain stream, tumbling white over the rocks, and caressing the mossy tree roots.
Selections from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem appear in The Song of Hiawatha, illus. by Margaret Early, which traces Hiawatha's life from his birth through his search for and battle with his estranged father, culminating in his marriage to Minnehaha. The picture book leaves out some of the more sophisticated ideas, keeping each excerpt to one left-hand page, opposite a dramatic painted scene on the right. Brief synopses fill in sections of plot not covered in the excerpted verses themselves. Early's paintings depict Hiawatha's journeys in colorfully stylized scenes.