A heartfelt intergenerational story about knowing and preserving heritage and love between elders and young ones.
Basing his bilingual (English and Cree) story on Sapp’s childhood growing up in Saskatchewan, Métis author Bouchard writes lyrically of a young Cree boy preparing for his first powwow. His Nokum (grandmother) guides him through the day and explains the stories told by the beating drums, the singers, and the dancers and describes the power in them. From exciting and happy stories about their people and their homeland to stories about sorrow, birth, and life hereafter, Nokum teaches the boy that he may buy cars and toys, but “Your stories, songs and beating heart / Are truly yours and yours alone.” These stories are sacred and should be passed “from age to youth,” and he should never use “another’s tale / Unless he knows and he approves.” Bouchard’s rhythmic text successfully conveys an emotive and sensory approach to the relationship between the two, enriching the story and echoing the hand-lettered onomatopoeic syllables that represent chanting and drumbeats. Sapp’s profound paintings bring sincere and reassuring images that support and enhance the tale. An audio CD with English and Cree narration by the author (with accompaniment by the music of Northern Cree) is included.
A stunning picture book that celebrates life, family relations, and determination to preserve traditions and heritage. (artist’s note) (Picture book. 5-11)