The Brave Indian Chief is the most pleasant of paradoxes: a video that enraptures a child with language. No music, no props, no animation. Unbelievably, just a man and his words. After seeing other kids’ videos, full of color and action, I found this one relaxing. My son found it spellbinding.

The storyteller on this tape is Rafe Martin, who, in spite of an unfortunate hairdo — or maybe partly because of it — is interesting to watch. Martin tells an American Indian folktale about Glooscop, a good-hearted chief who is tricked by the evil sorcerer Poke-in-Squas into taking a voyage that leaves him stranded on a rock in the middle of the sea. Glooscop calls to his grandfather the sea serpent for help, rides to land on the serpent’s back, $ finds his tribe, and punishes Poke-in-Squas. Don’t tell the kids, but he does so by turning him into a mosquito.

You know that horrible vacant look kids get watching some videos, like nobody’s home? If you watch your child as he watches this tape, you’ll see him go through myriad expressions: admiration, concern, joy. He is seeing something in his mind’s eye; his imagination is working! When the tape was over, my 6-year-old shook his head. ”Whew!” he said. A