The Old Man with the Otter Medicine.


40 pages
ISBN 978-1-894778-69-5
DDC 398.2089'972





Illustrations by Archie Beaverho
Translated by Mary Rose Sundberg
Reviewed by Gregory Bryan

Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.


The Old Man with the Otter Medicine is one of several interesting books in Theytus’ Books Tli Cho/Dogrib series of retellings of traditional First Nation tales. Presented in dual text, with English and Dogrib, the story tells of an old man who is able to transform himself into an otter. The otter dives to the bottom of a lake, releasing fish trapped in an underwater cavern. In so doing, the old man/otter is able to save his village from starvation.


An interactive CD accompanies the book, with a recording of the story in Dogrib and English. The father and son team, George and John Blondin, are the storytellers credited with this version of the legend. The illustrations are by Archie Beaverho. Mary Rose Sundberg translated the English language text into the Weledeh dialect of the Dogrib language.


At the end of the book there are four pages devoted to a Dogrib orthography and pronunciation guide. While the casual reader need not be concerned with this supplementary material, this information is, no doubt, of potentially profound educative value and adds considerably to the authenticity of the book.


The Old Man with the Otter Medicine is a simple story, told in a simple yet engaging manner. The artist’s cool colour choices reflect the cold northern environment. The exterior scenes are particularly well done with strong use of colour, including skilful use of shades of blue.



Blondin, John, as told by George Blondin., “The Old Man with the Otter Medicine.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,