Two young boys observing the night sky remember their relatives who have passed away.
After grandmother Nooko’s passing, Uncle tells stories to Niigaanii that help explain where she has gone in the hope that he will “feel less sad.” While watching the sky one fall evening, Niigaanii shares some of these lessons with his younger brother, Bineshiinh, the most important of which is that Nooko’s spirit lives on in the stars. As the boys continue to gaze at the “Forever Sky,” they see “the stars form shapes”—constellations significant to Ojibwe people—and they see the Milky Way, or the Path of Souls, that leads to the spirit world. But the dancing lights they encounter on a “very special night” bring an even better surprise. Peacock (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe Ojibwe) spins prose that feels both traditional and contemporary, providing a mirror for Indigenous readers raised among similar stories. Yet those unfamiliar with the Ojibwe cosmos will connect as well. Although rendered in a style all her own, astrophysicist/artist Lee’s (Lakota-Sioux) colorful, richly detailed illustrations recall the X-ray pictograph inspirations, elongated figures, and genre-content popularized by other Native American/First Nations painters. Astute readers will also notice the young brothers appear to wear shorts in some of the images, reinforcing present-day significance.
A guiding star of hope to readers who have lost a loved one and a stellar map that values Indigenous knowledge. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)