Metis/Ojibwe author Lindstrom (Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle) honors those who fight to protect the Earth’s fresh water. The words are spoken by a child who’s shown first with her grandmother: “Water is the first medicine.... Water is sacred,” the white-haired woman tells her. Bold strokes of light, limpid color wash across layered spreads by Tlingit and Haida artist Goade (Encounter). The girl tells of the arrival of an oil pipeline, the “black snake” that will “spoil the water./ Poison plants and animals./ Wreck everything in its path.” The half-bleached figures of a bird and a fish lie next to the pipeline leaking black sludge. “The plants, trees, rivers, lakes...”—Goade pulls back to view the Earth from space studded with stars—“We are all related.” Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary. And the girl doesn’t just participate in protest; she stands at the front, carrying a feather in one hand, as other protestors answer her call. “We are water protectors. WE STAND!” An author’s note traces the story’s genesis to the 2016 Standing Rock protests in the Dakotas. A passionate call for environmental stewardship. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Mar.)
"Powerful....Goade’s illustrations combine a mystical mood with the lovely fierceness of a child seeking justice." The New York Times
*"This book will both educate and inspire youth." School Library Journal
*"In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice. An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet."starred review, Kirkus Reviews
*"Goade’s watercolor illustrations fill the spreads with streaming ribbons of water, cosmic backdrops, and lush natural landscapes.... Lindstrom’s spare, poetic text flows with the “river’s rhythm." Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribeand othersthese pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action." starred review, Booklist
*"Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary... A passionate call for environmental stewardship." starred review, Publishers Weekly
*"A gorgeous and empowering picture book with an urgent environmental plea." starred review, BookPage
"Flowing words by Carole Lindstrom and lush art by Michaela Goade appear in immaculate synchronicity on every page of We Are Water Protectors."Shelf Awareness
"...beautifully composed." Horn Book
"This book celebrates indigenous-led movements to protect our planet's water. With gorgeous illustrations, it gives readers a sense of our connectivity." Romper.com
K-Gr 3—From swirling, detailed watercolor illustrations to lyrical text with the refrain, "We stand with our songs and our drums. We are still here," this title explores the Indigenous fight to protect water from pollution. A young Anishinaabe girl explains the prophecy of the black snake "that will destroy the land. Spoil the water. Poison plants and animals. Wreck everything in its path." The unnamed girl calls for action to protect all living things and "fight for those who cannot fight for themselves." The illustrations use rich colors and shading to show the intricate connection among all living creatures. A broken pipeline leaks into blue waters, turning fish and fowl into skeletons. Ghosts of ancestors surround children as an elder tells them the black snake prophecy. Black pipelines form the body of the snake on a red background, its mouth open and ready to strike. The author and illustrator notes focus on the need to protect water, and explain events at Standing Rock, where tribal members and their allies fought against an oil pipeline. A glossary of terms is provided, and the last page has an "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge" for readers to sign. VERDICT An accessible introduction to environmental issues combined with beautiful illustrations, this book will both educate and inspire youth. First purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA
In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice.
"Water is the first medicine," a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. "We come from water." Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators' respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child's narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a "black snake" will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. "Now the black snake is here," the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren't likely to be frightened due to Goade's vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting "those who cannot fight for themselves" and understanding that on Earth, "we are all related." Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom's powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: "We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors."
An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author's note, glossary, illustrator's note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12)