In this debut graphic novel, two siblings escape their foster mother and survive in the woods on wits, magic, and love.
Brother and Sister are First Nation children who live in a tightly knit community. One cruel day, they’re abducted and placed in foster care. Their new mother is Thoxweya, a witch from a lineage descended from the original woman of that name who lured children into the woods to eat them. In their new home, Brother and Sister become servants to Thoxweya and her daughter. When the siblings decide to run away one night, the witch curses all surrounding sources of water. While traveling through the woods, Brother tries to quench his thirst at a fountain, then a brook. Sister’s closeness to nature helps her hear the warnings, and she stops him. But eventually, he drinks from a spring and transforms into an elk. Brother and Sister come to terms with their new dilemma and choose to stay strong. They build a shelter in the woods of their people’s ancestral land, surviving on berries, roots, and mushrooms. Brother wears their grandmother’s locket around his furry neck for strength, but is it enough to protect him from a nearby camp of hunters? In this charming, educational tale, Harris uses bits from the Brothers Grimm (“Brüderchen und Schwesterchen”), the actual legend of Thoxweya, and her own fiction to illustrate sustainable living choices. Vibrant photography—especially the outdoor scenes—provides backgrounds while meticulously crafted dolls act out the script. Light digital effects add personality to the figures and magic to the transformations. At the end of the story, the author emphasizes underlying themes for her younger audience with a mock-up article titled “We Need to Protect the Planet We Depend On.” Boldface phrases, such as “vote with your pocket book,” “insincere politics,” and “even if it’s inconvenient and hard,” are ones adults should discuss in detail with children. Harris’ wisdom applies to readers of all ages: “Everyone should keep a vigilant eye on the goings-on in the world outside their own small one.”
A quirky and vivid primer for parents to teach kids about environmentalism.