Black-haired, brown-skinned children describe many sources of happiness in this board book, dedicated by the author to “former Indian Residential School students.”
“My heart fills with happiness when… / I see the face of someone I love // I smell bannock baking in the oven / I sing.” Author Smith, who is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish-Canadian, infuses her simple text with the occasional detail that bespeaks her First Nations heritage even as she celebrates universal pleasures. In addition to the smell of bannock, the narrator delights in dancing, listening to stories, and drumming. Cree-Métis artist Flett introduces visual details that further underscore this heritage, as in the moccasins, shawl, and braids worn by the dancing child and the drum and drumsticks wielded by the adult and toddler who lovingly make music together. (The “I drum” spread is repeated immediately, possibly to emphasize its importance, a detail that may disorient readers expecting a different scene.) Although the narrative voice is consistent, the children depicted change, which readers will note by hairstyle, dress, and relative age. The bannock bakes in a modern kitchen, and most of the clothing is likewise Western, emphasizing that these Native Americans are contemporary children. There is nothing in the text that specifically identifies them by nation, however.
Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures. (Board book. 1-3)