Select words paired to sonorous equivalents in the Swampy Cree dialect highlight this serene picture of a blueberry-picking expedition.
Since before he could walk, little Clarence has accompanied his grandma in season to a certain clearing to pick “wild berries / pikaci-minísa.” Once grandma has checked for bears (“maskwak”), the two set to picking—and eating—with breaks to watch an ant (“eník”) and other wildlife. When their buckets are full, they say “thank you / nanaskomowak” and depart—leaving a handful of berries for the birds. In the illustrations, two figures walk among tall, widely spaced tree trunks through grasses neatly drawn in single, straight brushstrokes to a clearing mottled with low berry plants. A red sun hangs in a white sky that is visually an extension of the white facing page on which the Cree, printed in red italics, draws the eye to the short, widely spaced lines of narrative. Except for a passing fox and the occasional bird, animals are depicted as silhouettes, which adds to the episode’s overall visual simplicity. Flett, an illustrator of Cree-Métis heritage, created a cultural and artistic showcase in Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet (2010); despite the language notes, this offering is a more general one.
A sweet commemoration of a shared experience, presented with care and infused with intimacy. (pronunciation guide, wild blueberry jam recipe) (Picture book. 5-7)