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THE DANCING TREES by Masiana Kelly


by Masiana Kelly ; illustrated by Michelle Simpson

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-77227-369-4
Publisher: Inhabit Media

In this cautionary tale, the trees teach an Indigenous kid a lesson about respecting nature.

Thomas doesn’t listen to his sister when she tells him to pick up his garbage. She reminds him of Grandma’s teachings, but Thomas is too busy telling his friends stories, wherein he plays a starring role as a skilled hunter and provider for his large family. His friends are tired of hearing his tales, and they challenge him to prove his skill by spending a night alone in the woods. Foolishly, Thomas accepts the challenge. He marks trees with string as he walks into the forest with just a backpack and sleeping bag, but he also strips the bark off of trees in boredom and leaves wrappers from his food on the ground. He manages to build a decent lean-to and falls asleep. But the trees, having seen his disrespectful conduct, uproot themselves and dance to new places, changing his markings so he can’t find his way. Thomas wakes up in the rain and gets lost. Having run out of food, Thomas is grateful to forage some cranberries and thanks the forest for the provisions. Seeing his mess, he cleans up before sleeping with fitful dreams of how disappointed his grandmother would be. The trees, satisfied with his changes, dance again to allow him to find his way home. While Simpson’s cartoon illustrations don’t quite match the traditional tone of Inuk/Dene author Kelly’s story, the fable accomplishes its educative goal while entertaining readers with memorable characters and suspense. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Uniquely successful.

(Picture book. 4-9)