An elder from Manitoba, Canada, shares his memories of a traditional Salteaux summer event.
When he was a boy in the 1940s, co-author Chartrand looked forward to packing most of their belongings onto the horse-drawn wagon and then taking the two-day journey to the blueberry patch. Other wagons joined them, traveling in a line. The boy’s family had a stubborn mule, Dick, and a horse called Socks due to its white legs to pull the family’s wagon. At the end of the first day, the wagons stopped to rest overnight by a creek where nighthawks swooped above them, making funny farting noises. After a meal of bannock, the narrator and his brothers fell asleep to the sounds of the grown-ups’ storytelling. The next day’s travel took them to their destination, where they stayed for a month, picking blueberries to take home. Leason and Chartrand’s (both Salteaux-Métis Anishinaabek) bilingual text shares a look at an important traditional custom of the Salteaux people. The recounting is intimate, the crisp memory of a now-long-ago childhood recalled with sensory specificity that places readers in the moment. Leason, Chartrand’s great-niece, contributes vibrant, stylized illustrations that emphasize organic forms; circles and ovals within leaves, flowers, birds creating harmonious visual connections. A recipe for bannock and suggested activities for readers are included in the backmatter.
Acutely joyful. (Picture book. 4-8)