A First Nations child learns important lessons from wildlife in this debut illustrated children’s book.
This thoughtful tale, inspired by the Canadian author’s First Nations heritage, follows an Ojibway child on a journey of discovery through the forest, encountering animals and absorbing what they have to teach about the way they live. Soulful in tone, the rhyming, first-person narrative begins with a glimpse of a majestic eagle soaring overhead, the warmth of Grandfather Sun, and a nap in Mother Earth’s embrace. The kid’s respectful encounters with a bear, a beaver, a buffalo, a gray wolf, a turtle, and a gentle “sabe” (sasquatch or Bigfoot in the Ojibway language) bring key lessons in courage, wisdom, respect, humility, truth, and honesty. In the evening, the child returns home under Grandmother Moon, protected by the sabe (“He walked with me almost all the way, so I was not alone”). Genuine emotional resonance comes through in the text despite some unevenness in Parisian’s rhyming cadence (“Suddenly a Bear peered through the trees. / It made me feel weak in my knees….Watching the Beaver, I almost missed what stood behind the trees. / There stood an animal, again I felt weak in my knees”). The author’s uplifting message is enhanced by the story’s full-color, mixed-media illustrations of the animals, scenes of the forest and the changing sky, and the Ojibway child in traditional dress. Rendered in watercolor, chalk, and pencil by First Nations artist Fontaine, these dreamlike images alternate with pages of clear, black text. The somewhat murky picture on the book’s cover doesn’t do the beautiful interior illustrations justice.
A meaningful and visually lovely nature tale despite a few bumps in the rhyme scheme.