Thank you to Edelweiss + and the publisher for a digital eARC of this book.
Canadians should be familiar with Marianne Dubuc’s books as they are enchanting. Her latest book, Your House, My House, took me down memory lane.
The building located at 3 Maple Street is busy, and the various animal characters and the building itself took me back to the books of Richard Scarry and my childhood. The cut-away illustrations- clearly show just how busy life is inside this building – from preparations for Little Rabbit’s birthday to the cats moving in, a bear who’s not feeling well and the owl who is finally heading off to sleep. We see the (dare I say it) the hustle and bustle of everyday living.
It is the illustrations that are going to make this book one that young readers want to revisit again and again, along with adults who can see the many details that Dubuc has carefully placed, creating stories within a story. The main story, of Little Rabbit’s birthday, will connect readers, but the magic is going to happen when readers see the stories that are missing and create their own. That’s the beauty of this gem of a book.
A new Indigenous series that primary teachers are going to be asking to use in classrooms and provides readers to see themselves in normal day-to-day activities and also opens a window for others to experience another culture.
This series introduces readers to Siha Tooskin, a young Nakota boy (aka Paul) and the many ways of knowing from everyday activities spent with various family members. Although found in the easy paperback section of my public library, for many readers, this may be classified using Melissa Stewart’s genre classification of narrative nonfiction. I say this because of the amount of learning and information about the Nakota culture and ways of knowing may not be familiar to readers.
There are many reasons to love this series. First off, the books are short in overall page length, the longest being 38 pages and would work as a read-aloud or independent reading for older primary readers. Although it may appear there is a great deal of text on each page, it is large and manageable. There are coloured illustrations and at least one two-page spread in each book. The back matter includes a glossary of Nakota words used and an explanation of pronunciation. My personal favourite the growth of a plant at the beginning of each book, sharing with readers how the plant will grow as they read and can also use as places to rest or stop.
Currently, there are eight books in the series; below is a brief synopsis and do not necessarily need to be read in order.
Siha Tooskin Knows the Gifts of His People: In this book, Paul Wahasaypa has to bring something to school representing his culture. As he walks home from school with his dad, he learns of the many origins of various Indigenous people in the areas of agriculture, housing, irrigations, transportation, medicine and education.
Siha Tooskin Knows the Sacred Eagle Feather: Paul goes on a walk with his grandfather to collect eagle feathers. While walking, his grandfather explains why the eagle is so important to Indigenous people; how the eagle feathers are used in dance and considered sacred, including offering tobacco for the gifts of the feathers.
Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair: Paul shares with his grandfather how boys at school tease him about his braids. His grandfather reminds him how his hair is his connection to his mind, body and spirit. That the braid reminds him of his strong family ties and that he is to honour his family by treating everyone with kindness and respect
Shiha Tooskin Knows the Catcher of Dreams: Paul races home as he uses his observational skills his Mitoshin (Grandfather) has taught him to see that his grandparents have unexpectedly come for a visit. Paul’s new sibling is about to be born, and as they wait to find out if he has a new baby brother or sister, his Mugoshin (Grandmother) shares the teaching of the dream catcher that she is making for the new grandchild.
Shiha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life: Paul gets a chance to go for a walk with his mother in the woods. While walking, she passes on the lessons taught to her by her parents. Paul learns how nature teaches us about strength, generosity, kindness and humility and the part humans play.
Shiha Tooskin Knows the Best Medicine: Paul is not feeling well and ends up being in the hospital. In the hospital, Paul learns how there are healing practices from his culture as well as Western medicine to help him in the healing process. I will note that the ambiguity of Paul’s illness leaves the reader with unanswered questions.
Shiha Tooskin Knows the Offering of Tobacco: Paul shares with his teacher the importance of offering a gift back to Mother Earth or to a learned individual to show honour and gratitude for gifts and knowledge shared.
Shiha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance: Paul brings his friend Jeff to attend his very first Powwow. His grandfather and Paul share with Jeff the different types and descriptions of the dances he will see.
I learned quite a bit reading this series and know that ALL students in elementary schools would gain some new knowledge. Sold individually or as a collection, this is a series that for schools, I would suggest multiple copies and for libraries depending upon your patron’s needs, perhaps the same. As stated earlier, here is a series with a character going about everyday life intertwined with his culture today and connected to the obstacles overcome in the past. I hope that we can see more books like this, written in the same manner and fingers crossed a series published for older elementary students too – there is a void in this area!
I’m a sucker for wordless books and when the topic is nature I’m all in. Pete Oswald has created a masterpiece with this book with a beautiful surprise at the end.
A genderless child and father are preparing for a Hike. We see the child’s room scattered with books, drawings, trail guides, binoculars and a camera along with posters on the wall all related to the outdoors. Finally the day for the hike arrives and we see the child and dad getting ready, packing up the jeep and leaving the city for the winding road to the forest and where they will hike.
As they start their journey we are treated to waterfalls, and wildlife, with varying perspectives from side views to bird’s eye views of the gorgeous scenery the two are enjoying. We see them at different elevations , checking out fish in a pond, having a snowball fight and then they reach the summit to take in the view and complete a task they set out to accomplish.
An absolute gorgeous story with beautiful illustrations that include two page spreads to small snippets with white space so we can truly focus on the passage of time and the smaller details in the illustrations. One of my very favourite finds this year.