Cree-Métis artist Flett (Birdsong) starts with quiet, elegant portraits of animals at play attended by brief, motion-filled lines of text. Velvety dark brown rabbits jump across the page (“Animals hide/ and hop”); a fox investigates a turtle as kits peer timidly from the page’s edge (“and sniff/ and sneak”); an owlet peeks out from the page as others cluster together, their new wings delicately etched (“and peek/and peep”). Then a group of small children of various skin tones appears, leaping, jumping, and lying on their backs in tall grass as butterflies flit above. “We play too! kimêtawânaw mîna” they say. An author’s note defines the Cree phrase as “living in relationship and in care to one another” and discusses the kinship between animals and people, whether “running and hopping through the grass or... pondering creatures in the creek.” In spare compositions, Flett aptly underlines this idea by showing animals and humans embracing play in similar ways (snakes slide, children sled down a hill in the snow), until at last, “slowly, side by side,” everyone sleeps. Also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide. Ages up to 7. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)
A BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington Post, New York Public Library, Kirkus Reviews, Globe and Mail, Horn Book, and Boston Globe
STARRED Reviews in Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Horn Book, School Library Journal
A 2022 Best Book for Babies
From Julie Flett, the beloved author and illustrator of Birdsong, comes a joyous new book about playtime for babies, toddlers, and kids up to age 7.
Animals and kids love to play! This wonderful book celebrates playtime and the connection between children and the natural world. Beautiful illustrations show:
- birds who chase and chirp!
- bears who wiggle and wobble!
- whales who swim and squirt!
- owls who peek and peep!
- and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting:
We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna
At the end of the book, animals and children gently fall asleep after a fun day of playing outside, making this book a great bedtime story. A beautiful ode to the animals and humans we share our world with, We All Play belongs on every bookshelf.
This book also includes:
- A glossary of Cree words for wild animals in the book
- A pronunciation guide and link to audio pronunciation recordings
PreS-Gr 2—This delightful picture book features woodland animals, found in North America, mirroring playtime for children: "Animals hide and hop and sneak and sniff and peep. We play, too! kimêtawânaw mîna." The children are happy, playing and tiring themselves out, then resting by the end of the book. It is a great bedtime story. The words in English are simple and could easily be memorized and then recognized by early readers. The illustrations are warm and inviting; the animal families are depicted in soft, smudged painterly colors. At the end of the book is a glossary of Cree words for the animals in singular, plural, and diminutive forms, along with words for child and baby. The pronunciation for these words can be found on a website. The author's note provides a summary of the book, explaining the kinship between humans and animals in Cree culture and the interconnectedness to "the land, plants, the earth, wind, water and sky." VERDICT Add to any library collection and pair it with Julie Flett's Birdsong.—Danielle Burbank, Farmington, NM
Everyone loves to play! Award-winning author/illustrator Flett shares the joyful antics of young animals as they romp in much the same way as human children.
The rhythmic text offers both rich vocabulary and a page-turning chant. Woodland animals “hide and hop / and sniff and sneak” while Indigenous children, depicted in differing shades of brown, run, skip, jump, and hunt for butterflies. “We play too! kimêtawânaw mîna,” they proclaim in the refrain. Aquatic animals “swim and squirt / and bubble and bend” while children swim under the water and float on its surface, in inner tubes. On the prairie, snakes “slip and slide” through the grass while buffalo “rumble and roll.” And bears “wiggle and wobble” as both they and children play (in separate double-page spreads) in the snow. At last, “side by side, animals fall asleep,” and after a day full of fun, “we do too. nîstanân mîna.” The animals are not named within the primary text, leaving it to readers to identify the hopping bunnies, the spouting beluga whale calves, and the yawning wolf pups. Flett’s characteristically minimalist compositions are deceptively simple. Readers who slow down to look will be charmed by the cricket that hops in tandem with a rabbit and the fox that stares in bemusement at a turtle. This celebration of nature is sprinkled with words from the Cree language, and a closing glossary provides both Cree and English names of the animals depicted; a note provides guidance on Cree pronunciation for readers not familiar with the language.
Simple text and bold, graphic illustrations celebrate our interconnection with the creatures who share our world. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)