This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

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SURVIVING THE CITY

From the Debwe series

A debut YA graphic novel finds a teenager emotionally and then physically adrift as her home life worsens.

Miikwan and Dez are Indigenous Canadian teens. Miikwan, who is Anishinaabe, has lost her mother. Dez, who is Inninew, lives with her grandmother (or kokum). The girls are best friends—like sisters—who completed their yearlong Berry Fast together (which teaches girls entering womanhood patience). One day, Dez learns that her diabetic kokum might need to have her foot removed. Further, Dez would have to live in a group home. In school, the girls choose to present their Berry Fast for a class Heritage Project. Before starting work on the project, they visit the city mall, where Miikwan’s mom “always used to tell me to be careful.” When the girls notice the predatory stares of older men, they leave and visit the Forks historical area. The last time they were there, they attended a rally for No More Stolen Sisters. A memorial sculpture dedicated to missing women reminds Miikwan of her own beautiful mother, whose spirit still guides her. Later, Dez returns home only to see through the window that a social worker speaks with her kokum. Devastated, she wanders into a park. Her cellphone dies, and she curls up on a bench as night falls. In this harrowing but hopeful tale, illustrator Donovan (The Sockeye Mother, 2017) and author Spillett spotlight the problem of “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People.” While this is a global issue, the graphic novel focuses on the Winnipeg area and highlights for its target audience situations that may pose risk. While Miikwan travels alone on a bus or in the city, readers see both benign and ghoulish spirits present. Spillett knows when to hold dialogue back and allow Donovan’s superb facial expressions to carry the moment, as when Dez spots the social worker in her home. Radiant colors and texting between characters should draw teens into the story, which simply and effectively showcases the need for community solutions to society’s worst ills.

This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-756-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

RED RIVER RESISTANCE

A GIRL CALLED ECHO

From the A Girl Called Echo series , Vol. 2

A sequel offers a teenager’s further adventures through Métis history.

In Vermette’s (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.) graphic novel, Métis teen Echo Desjardins is starting to fit in a little better at Winnipeg Middle School, making friends and getting involved in the Indigenous Students Leadership group. But she still spends most of her time listening to music on her cellphone and getting swept up in the lectures that her teacher gives on the history of the Métis people. This volume covers the 1869 Red River Rebellion—or Red River Resistance, as Echo’s back-in-time friend Benjamin calls it, because “there will be no violence.” After the Hudson Bay Company sells the land on which the Métis people live to the government of Canada, Métis leaders Louis Riel and Ambroise Lépine attempt to halt the inevitable flood of settlers. They establish a provisional Métis government for the Northwest Province. Though the Métis take great pains to negotiate peacefully with the incoming Canadian government, troublemakers both inside and outside of their territory—including the anti–Roman Catholic, anti-French, anti-Indigenous Orangemen—may make the violence that Benjamin promised would never occur impossible to stop. As Echo witnesses one of the great what-ifs of North American history fall apart, the tragedy is reflected in the pain she feels in her personal life back in the 21st century. As in the previous volume, the story is accompanied by beautiful, full-color artwork by the team of Henderson and Yaciuk (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.). This book has less of Echo’s own life in it than the first novel, and the historical portions, with their many bearded 19th-century leaders, feel perhaps more didactic and less dramatic than the author’s account of the Pemmican Wars. Even so, this underexplored portion of North American history should prove intriguing and affecting for readers, particularly those living in the United States, where the struggles of the Métis people are largely unknown. By contrasting these historical events side by side with Echo’s story, this installment does a wonderful job showing how the ripples of past policies have shaped the current day and how political decisions always have a personal cost.

A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-747-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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