An introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals.
In the tradition of the Anishinaabe people of Canada, everyone belongs to an animal clan or totem. This totem animal symbolizes the skills that each member of the clan must learn to serve their tribe. In two-page spreads, Métis artist Daniel introduces children to 12 totem animals, such as a moose, a rabbit, a raven, and a crow. One page shows a child wearing a mask representing a totem animal, while on the opposing page, a brief first-person narration explains that totem’s attributes. The playful acrylic-on-canvas illustrations have an earthy, textural feel where the surface shows through the paint. The text is child-friendly, imaginative, and short—really four lines of free verse rather than prose text. At the end of the book, Daniel has included a list of the animals and their meanings, which is helpful, as the meanings of the animals are not always obvious in each little poem. For example, the butterfly, which stands for vulnerability, is described thus: “Sometimes I feel like a butterfly, / delicate and free. / I spread my wings open / and flutter from flower to leaf.”
This book will fascinate children expanding their horizons and learning about other cultures (or, in the case of Anishinaabe kids, their own). (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)