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ENCOUNTER by Brittany Luby


by Brittany Luby ; illustrated by Michaela Goade

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-316-44918-2
Publisher: Little, Brown

How might Indigenous and European people have connected if non-Native explorers had visited First Nations territories instead of colonizing them?

Shared humanity is at the center of this Indigenous author and illustrator team’s alternative history. Fisher, an Indigenous person with rich brown skin and long black hair, notices a stranger rowing into the bay—Sailor, a white-skinned redhead who “came from away” in search of “unknown lands.” Quickly challenging this settler narrative that frames Europeans as discovering Indigenous territories, Sailor spots Fisher from a distance and shifts his thinking: “Perhaps these lands are not so new.” Fisher and Sailor’s ensuing friendship is tender but brief, as Sailor’s excursion to Fisher’s homeland ends in his eventual “journey home.” Under the affirming gaze of nearby animals, who emphasize Fisher and Sailor’s similarities through their anthropomorphic commentary, Fisher and Sailor observe their differences respectfully. Luby’s (Anishinaabe) creative reimagining of historical events is brought to life by Goade’s (Tlingit) vibrant multimedia illustrations, which weave Fisher and Sailor brilliantly into their jewel-toned surroundings. Encounter’s most valuable aspect is its backmatter: Both an author’s reflection and a historical note offer crucial context to this spirited revision. “This peaceful encounter does not forgive…violent actions,” Luby notes. “Instead, it reminds us…that everyday people, like Sailor, can participate in systems that hurt others.” Without this addendum, this story runs the risk of obscuring legacies of violence rather than “learn[ing] from our history and tak[ing] the opportunity to map a better future.”

An uplifting, #ownvoices vision for what could have been and what we are responsible for now.

(Picture book. 6-11)