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Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache

The Midwest Book Review

"Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale is a warm and pungent retelling of a treasured trickster take from Choctaw traditions, rediscovered and retold by talented Native American author Greg Rodgers. Buried in old Choctaw History Archives and interview transcriptions, the story of Chukfi Rabbit’s Big Bad Bellyache found its way to the author from Choctaw language records dating to the 1930’s or older. Not only is it a delightful, humorous trickster teaching tale for children, it is a living oral expression from an ancient tradition, with Native inflections, traditional Choctaw animal character names, and a wonderful flavor of the Choctaw world view essence. It is good food for the rainbow All-soul. Embellished with carefully crafted illustrations showing animal characters in suggested Choctaw costumes, Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache tells a tale that contrast the positive value of cooperative helping efforts with the sneaky, selfish act of greedy consumption of a communal treat that was meant to be shared by all. Chukfi Rabbit is invited to help Chula Fox, Nita Bear, Luksi Turtle, and Kinta Beaver spend the day building Ms. Shukata Possum a new house. At the end of the day’s building work, Ms. Shukata Possum has prepared a special treat of cornbread biscuits, grape dumplings, tanchi labona (Choctaw corn stew), and butter, a special treat. On the building day, the lazy Chukfi tries to avoid working by pretending to be sick. While the other animals are hard at work building Shukata’s house, Chukfi devours all the butter from the wooden tub keeping cool in the creek. Not only is Chukfi greedy and deceptive, he also tries to shift the blame for stealing the butter treat to another animal, by planting a patch of butter on Nita Bear’s nose. However, Chukfi’s greed backfires on his plan, and a loud belch and a big bad bellyache gives him away to his friends, who are not fooled by his trickery. The moral of the story is profound and delightful: Everybody felt happy about helping Ms. Shukata build a nice new home, and 'helping others is always more joyful than even the best butter ever.' The cadences and rhythms of the narration suggest the feel of the original tale, and children of all ages will respond joyously to the trickster antics of Chukfi Rabbit and his animal friends."
- July 25, 2014 

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