The Trouble with Adventures


162 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-7710-4028-8




Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


Readers familiar with Harris’s Pacific Northwest Indian tales will be pleased with her most recent work, containing five legends plus a story based upon an actual historical event. Suitable for reading or telling, the stories continue to contain the richness of vocabulary and imagery Harris has led her upper elementary level audiences to expect. Tait’s full-page pen-and-ink illustrations, eight in number, accurately capture the mood or content of Harris’s prose. The book’s weakness, a minor one, is the title, for its hold upon the content is at best tenuous. “Adventurer” is used in the loosest sense; while the term can obviously be applied to a bold young man such as Asdival (who, in “The Bird of Good Luck,” accepts the tests and challenges of the chief of the Upper World plus those of his jealous brothers-in-law), the title seems too grandiose for mundane Porcupine, as Beaver endeavors to introduce him to the delights of swimming in “The Reluctant Adventures of Porcupine and Beaver.”

The six entries offer a wise variety of moods from the humour found in the trickster tale, “Raven Gets the Oolekan,” to the supernatural eeriness of the “Ghost Canoe People.” Though the stories in Harris’s The Trouble with Princesses had rather lengthy introductions connecting them with Old World tales, those in the present collection, with one exception, tersely indicate the adventurers’ troubles. The final story, “The True Adventures of John Jewitt,” recounts the experiences of one of two survivors of what would ethnocentrically be described as “a needless massacre by savagers”; however, Harris’s six-page preamble explains how the need to kill the crew of the trading vessel Boston was completely appropriate within the Blood Code value structure of the Nootka Sound Indians. A map of Canada’s Pacific Coast, which identifies the stories’ locations, and a list of story sources complete the work.


Harris, Christie, “The Trouble with Adventures,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2021,