This week I read three picture books with themes of relationships with land and animals, connecting with family, and the feeling of being at and returning home.
Not My Girl
From the same authors of fatty legs, Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Not My Girl turns towards difficult subject matter in an accessible story for young readers. This story centers on Olemaun (Margaret) the same character in fatty legs who is inspired by co-author Pokiak-Fenton.
Not My Girl begins after Olemaun returns to her family after two years of Residential School, and follows her tumultuous journey to reintegrate into their daily lives. Olemaun is excited to see her family but when they are reunited, she finds that she is barely recognizable to them and does not have the skills to contribute to their daily routines.
Slowly over the course of the story, Olemaun reconnects with her parents, siblings, their dogs, and the land that they belong to. Without downplaying her struggle, readers and left with a sense of hope at the end of the book as she again finds her place at home.
Sweetest Kulu is a beautifully written and illustrated book from author Celina Kalluk, an Inuit women from Resolute Bay, Nunavut with images by Alexandria Neonakis.
The story follows a young child, referred to as Kulu (a term of endearment for little ones in Inuktitut) as they meet different arctic animals who impart gifts, wisdom and teachings one by one. Through each encounter, Kulu learns how they are strong, supported, and loved by family, but also by the land, animals, and plants of the arctic.
Sila and the Land
I am excited to support this book which was written by a team of three Indigenous authors, Shelby Angalik (Inuit), Ariana Roundpoint (Kanien'kehakah) and Lindsay DuPre (Métis) and illustrated by Halie Finney (Métis heritage). Together they spoke to Indigenous youth from across Canada to learn about their relationship with land and infused those insights into this book.
Sila and the Land follows Sila who at the urging of her grandmother, departs from her home in the North and travels in all the four directions. Along the way she meets animals and plants who share teachings about the good life with her. At the end, Sila returns home to her grandmother, who is proud of her learning and adventures.