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Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools K-7 2018-2019

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This list of Indigenous titles was published by The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC) in 2018-2019.


Nimoshom and His Bus
Artists:
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Kindergarten; 1; 2; 3; 4;

Nimoshom loved to drive the school bus. Every day, on the way to and from school, he had something to say. Sometimes, he told the kids silly stories. Sometimes, he taught the kids a new word in Cree.

Nimoshom and His Bus introduces basic Cree words. A glossary is included in the back of the book.

Reviews
"Through accessible language and engaging visual resources, readers are introduced to basic Cree as Nimoshom responds in this language to the children who ride his bus.... The illustrator’s varying the visuals between full double spreads and single page illustrations keeps the pacing lively. Amidst a rural fall setting, with woodland animals, children, and the school bus, Nimoshom’s humorous nature shines through these gentle illustrations. At the end of this story, you just want to give Nimoshom a great big hug!"
Anita Miettunen, CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"In this bilingual book, readers follow a bus driver picking up kids and dropping them off before and after school. Like the students on the bus, readers quickly learn that the driver's native language is Cree, and he often speaks to them in his native language. Readers learn that "Nimoshom" means "my grandfather" and that "Ekosani" means thank you" as the author (of Cree descent herself) weaves Cree words into the text, and each new spread almost feels like a gentle wave: yes, we're subtly learning new words, but it never feels strenuous or forced, rather it's calm and poetic."
Let's Talk Picture Books

"While Penny M. Thomas' story is not a plot-driven allegory or a message-based lesson, Nimoshom and His Bus is a sweet introduction to some simple Cree words in the context of a common-place activity for many children.... Karen Hibbard who uses watercolours and pastels to create a gentle background for Nimoshom's day on his bus gives the story a grassroots mood, highly appropriate for a routine day of activity and interaction for this bus driver and his charges. It's very relatable."
Helen Kubiw, CanLit for Little Canadians

"If you're a regular reader of AICL, you know that we're always delighted by books by Native writers--especially ones set in the present. Books like Nimoshom and His Bus provide Native children with mirrors that non-Native children find in abundance.... I highly recommend Nimoshom and His Bus! It'd be a simple thing to use other Native words in addition to--or instead of--the Cree words in the book.
Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature

Educator Information
Recommended for ages 4-9 / grades K-4.

Recommended for Grades K-4 for the following subject areas: English Language Arts, Social Studies. 

Additional Information
24 pages | 9.00" x 7.00"

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$18.95

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nipehon / I Wait
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Preschool; Kindergarten; 1; 2;

A young child, her grandmother and mother are going out to pick wild yarrow. As Grandmother gets ready, the child and her mom wait. Grandmother leads the way to the field of blossoms, where they can finally start to pick … only now they have to wait for Mom!

The simple story, written in Cree and English and accompanied by rich acrylic illustrations, shows the patience, love and humor involved as three generations accommodate one another on a family outing. nipêhon / ᓂᐯᐦᐅᐣ / I Wait was translated by Leona Morin-Neilson, who was the inspiration for the book.

This companion volume to niwîcihâw / I Help includes a recipe for yarrow tea, known for its refreshing and soothing effects.

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 4-7

This book is written in Cree (the Y dialect) and English. The Cree language is represented in two forms -- standard roman orthography and syllabics.

Recommended for Grades K-1 for the following subject areas: English Language Arts, Indigenous Language Studies, Social Studies, Science and Nature, Visual Arts.

Additional Information
24 pages | 8.50" x 12.25"

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Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$18.95

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Once in a Blue Moon
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: Kindergarten; 1; 2;

Inspired by the expression “once in a blue moon,” Danielle Daniel has created a book of short poems, each one describing a rare or special experience that turns an ordinary day into a memorable one. She describes the thrill of seeing a double rainbow, the Northern Lights or a shooting star as well as quieter pleasures such as spotting a turtle basking in the sun or a family of ducks waddling across the road.

In simple words and delightful naïve images, Once in a Blue Moon celebrates the magical moments that can be found in the beauty and wonders of nature.

With the same simple yet sophisticated design as Danielle’s award-winning picture book Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, this book is a very accessible and inviting introduction to poetry for young readers.

Reviews
“This book will fascinate children expanding their horizons and learning about other cultures (or, in the case of Anishinaabe kids, their own).” - Kirkus Reviews

Educator Information
Recommended for Grades K-2 for these subject areas: Art Education, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.

Additional Information
56 pages | 8.50" x 8.50"

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$17.95

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Pictographs: The Graphic Art of James Simon Mishibinijima
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12;

In Pictographs, Ojibway artist James Simon Mishibinijima brings to life the legends passed down to him by generations of Elders. In this collection of drawings, each image tells a story, silently communicating lessons of harmony, interconnectedness and peace.

Transcending the familiar iconography of the Near North—the crows, the wolves, the loons and the ravens—the drawings of James Simon, known as Mishibinijima, propel readers into a fantastical spirit world, one that is as powerful and mysterious as it is beautiful.

In Mishibinijima’s Pictographs, smooth, quiet drawings serve as a reflection of place, not just of the wild geography of forest and rock of his native Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island but also of the ancestral wisdom of the Elders, whose telling images remain graven into stone on the north shore of Lake Superior and at the burial sites of LaCloche Island.

Mishibinijima’s world is quiet, devoid of language—a world in which the artist listens to the fauna, in which pictographs articulate the essential interconnectedness of nature and in which images themselves become texts of dimly-remembered lessons recited by Elders long passed.

Reviews
"Arresting, elegant, and powerful, the pictographs approach storytelling in an entirely new way to draw readers into a world of spirits, animals, lessons, and knowledge. A silent exploration of interconnectedness and history, the collection speaks volumes." — Open Book Ontario

"Unique and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, Pictographs: The Graphic Art of James Simon Mishibinijima is an uncommon and very special addition to personal, community, and academic libra[ries]...."— Midwest Book Review

Educator Information
The Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools list recommends this resource for Grades 4-12 for these subjects: Art Education, Social Studies.

The language of pictographs is used in this work, not the English or Ojibwe languages.

Additional Information
208 pages | 5.50" x 9.00"

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$24.95

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Quand on etait seuls
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: 3; 4; 5; 6; 7;

Récipiendaire du prix littéraire du Gouverneur général 2017, pour la version originale When we Were Alone.En aidant sa grand-mère à entretenir son jardin, une fillette remarque chez celle-ci des caractéristiques qui piquent sa curiosité. Pourquoi sa grand-mère porte-t-elle ses longs cheveux en tresses et des vêtements de couleurs vives? Pourquoi parle-t-elle une autre langue et passe-t-elle tant de temps avec sa famille? Ces questions amènent l’ainée à parler des années qu’elle a passées enfant dans un pensionnat autochtone, endroit où tout lui avait été enlevé. Quand on était seuls raconte une période difficile et constitue, en dernier ressort, un témoignage de courage et de prise en charge personnelle.

Educator Information
Recommended for Grades 3-7 for these subject areas: Francais langue premiere, French Immersion Language Arts, Sciences humaines.

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$12.95

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Sans Nimâmâ
Artists:
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12;

Tân’tê Nimâmâ? je demande à Nôhkom. Où est Maman?
— Elle fait partie des femmes disparues, Kamâmakos. Elle m’appelle « petit papillon ». Comme le faisait Nimâmâ. Avant qu’elle disparaisse.

Une jeune femme — une Autochtone parmi tant d’autres portées disparues au Canada — veille sur son enfant qui doit grandir sans sa nimâmâ. La mère observe de loin les étapes importantes de la vie de sa lle — sa première journée d’école, sa première soirée dansante, la rencontre de son premier ami de coeur, le jour de son mariage, la naissance de son enfant. Sans Nimâmâ est une histoire riche d’amour, mais aussi remplie de perte, racontée à tour de rôle par une mère et son enfant.

Educator Information
This is a picture book best suited for more mature readers (teenagers), as it deals with mature themes and subject matter.

In this story, a young woman — one of the many missing indigenous woman in Canada — watches over her child who must grow up without her. The mother observes from afar the important stages in the life of her daughter, including her first day of school, the meeting of her first best friend, the day of her marriage, and the birth of her child. Sans Nimâmâ is a story rich in love, but also filled with loss, told in turn by a mother and child.

Recommended for Grades 4-7 for these subject areas: Francais langue premiere, French Immersion Language Arts, Sciences humaines. Caution: This book is best used for a read-aloud because of its subject matter and theme of loss.  It is not recommended as an independent read for younger ages.

Additional Information
34 pages | 8.25" x 11.00"

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$11.95

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Soapstone Porcupine
Authors:
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Kindergarten; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6;

The dog shows up the way snow does on a winter's day. She just drifts in and stays, becoming the friend of a young Cree boy. The boy and the dog set out on an adventure that ends in a quandary involving quills and a big brother who swears to take revenge on the porcupine. But Lindy, a Cree elder and master carver, reminds the brothers of the importance of the great porcupine. After a day spent carving in town, the boy learns some truths about human nature and realizes that sometimes, like the porcupine, you must put your quills up to keep from getting pushed around.

Soapstone Porcupine is the second book, after Soapstone Signs, narrated by a young Cree boy.

Educator & Series Information
Recommended for Grades K-6 for these subject areas: English Language Arts.

Uses simple Cree language throughout and includes a guide with the phonetic spelling and pronunciation of the Cree words used.

Themes: boy and dog friendship, soapstone carving, Indigenous, Cree, self-knowledge.

This book is part of the Orca Echoes series of early chapter books, which intends to engage young readers while promoting personal development and social responsibility.

Additional Information
88 pages | 5.25" x 7.62" | Chapter Book | B&W illustrations | Greg Spence (Moose Cree) was a consultant for the Cree language in this book.

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$6.95

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Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg;
Grade Levels: Kindergarten; 1; 2;

In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book.

In a brief author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children seeking to understand themselves and others.

Educator Information
Recommended for Grades K-2 for these subject areas: Art Education, Visual Arts, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.

Additional Information
40 pages | 8.25" x 10.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
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Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$9.95

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The Journey Forward, A Novella On Reconciliation
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8;

Two award-winning voices.
Two stories on Reconciliation.
Two amazing covers.
One unforgettable book.

The Journey Forward, A Novella On Reconciliation:

When We Play Our Drums, They Sing!

by Richard Van Camp

This the story of 12-year-old Dene Cho, who is angry that his people are losing their language, traditions, and ways of being. Elder Snowbird is there to answer some of Dene Cho’s questions, and to share their history including the impact Residential schools continue to have on their people. It is through this conversation with Snowbird that Dene Cho begins to find himself, and begins to realize that understanding the past can ultimately change the future.

Tessa Macintosh’s wonderful photographs are featured on the cover and interior of this memorable story.



The Journey Forward, A Novella On Reconciliation:

Lucy & Lola

by Monique Gray Smith

Lucy and Lola are 11-year-old twins who are heading to Gabriola Island, BC, to spend the summer with their Kookum (grandmother) while their mother studies for the bar exam. During their time with Kookum, the girls begin to learn about her experiences in being sent — and having to send their mother — to Residential school. Ultimately, they discover what it means to be inter-generational survivors.

Award-winning illustrator Julie Flett created the amazing cover illustration and interior spot art that perfectly suit this engaging novella.

Educator Information
Recommended for Grades 5-8 for the following subject areas: English Language Arts, Social Studies.

Authentic Canadian Content
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Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$13.99

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The Sockeye Mother
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Gitxsan (Gitksan);
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7;

To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than just a source of food. Over its life cycle, it nourishes the very land and forests that the Skeena River runs through and where the Gitxsan make their home. The Sockeye Mother explores how the animals, water, soil, and seasons are all intertwined.

1 SMALL FRY

There’s a strong undertow today. The turbulent waters caress the backs of the little semelparous life forms emerging from their gravel nests. A small free-swimming fry bears witness to the currents of spring, after spending weeks developing and using up its nutritious yolk sack. It’s one of few remaining fry leaving its long winter’s home to seek out nursing waters.

This is the time of Wihlaxs (the black bear’s walking moon), which is early spring to the Gitxsan peoples of the Pacific Northwest Interior. Change is in the air, the days grow longer, and renewal is the life force that guides the world around the little fry’s waterways. Flora cells are starting to stir, preparing to bud and bring green to the landscape. Stores of food for the people along Xsan (river of mists) is running low, but preparations for the new seasons of fishing and gathering have begun. New snow falls to take away the old snow, which the Gitxsan call dalugwa.

Miso’o, or sockeye, are one of many species of salmon that call Xsan home. Although all species are valued, the Gitxsan prefer the flavour and number of Sockeye that return to their spawning grounds every year. The cultures along Xsan, otherwise known as the Skeena River, flourished and shaped their existence around the life cycles of this keystone species. Little does this small sockeye fry know that its life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.

2 TIME TO GROW

After a couple of years of “schooling” in the deeper parts of the nursing lake, this sockeye has become a smolt. Its little silvery body begins taking the shape of its blue-backed future self. The smolt is outgrowing the lake, and this signals Lasa ya’a (the spring salmon’s returning moon), so the little sockeye begins its treacherous journey down the Skeena.

As the spring salmons return, the sockeye smolts depart to relieve their urge for saliferous waters. April carries summer innuendos, as warm winds flow through nearly blooming flowers. The scent of pines and cedar waft across moist pillowy moss. The nets and rods of the Gitxsan people scour Xsan in hopes of taking part in the return of ya’a, the spring salmon. Ceremony is held and feasts occur to welcome the runs of salmon who come to replenish the land. It’s not only a time to give thanks, but also a time to send prayer that the salmon will always return, that they will provide nourishment for all that is living within its realm.

The young sockeye has so far avoided predation, dodged the unnaturally changing landscape denuding from the clear-cutting of man, and escaped the hungry hands of ’watxs, the otter. The smolt and her school have made their journey to the Pacific, and north to the ocean waters, where they will continue to feed and grow.

3 A REPLENISHING DEATH

For two years the sockeye mother has been feeding in the ocean waters, while avoiding sharks and killer whales. Through instinct, smell and much that is still not understood, the sockeye mother swims against the powerful currents of Xsan to return to the exact place in the rivers where she was spawned.

It’s now Lasa lik’i’nxsw (the grizzly bear’s moon). August is the time when all the Gitxsan people and grizzly bears pluck hundreds of thousands of sockeye from the Skeena. Many predators such as the grizzly discard most of the carcass. They carry their catch sometimes hundreds of metres into the forest, only to eat the fatty bellies and eggs. The decaying bodies of the salmon leaves nitrogen that nourishes the soil.

Battered and beaten by the journey, she is literally decaying due to lack of food and constant hard work. She finds a male partner who’s dug a nest to her liking. She lays her eggs. She can now die a replenishing death. The dying salmon bodies become fertilizer for all the flora that shape the great lands. Without the sockeye mother, the Gitxsan as they are, would simply not exist.

Awards

  • The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Award, Youth Category.
  • McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award

Educator & Series Information
Recommended for Grades 4-7 for theses subject areas: Science, Social Studies.

This book is part of the Mother of Xsan series, which uses striking illustration and lyrical language to bring the poetry of the Xsan ecosystem to life.

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$23.00

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The Tree by the Woodpile: And Other Dene Spirit of Nature Tales
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Dene;
Grade Levels: 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7;

“With the passing of many of our Elders, the telling of these stories becomes more valuable than ever.” — Raymond Yakeleya

The Tree by the Woodpile is a story about a First Nations boy who is told an enchanting tale by his grandmother about how an old tree by the woodpile provides food and shelter for the birds and animals of the North. Other stories in the book are “The Wolf,” and “The Mountain, the Wind, and the Wildflowers.” The stories are suffused with Newet'sine, the Creator and Spirit of Nature, who brings a message of how we must to cherish our land. 

Educator & Series Information
The book, written in English and Dene for middle-grade children, ages 7 to 12, supports the "First Peoples Principles of Learning," particularly recognizing the role of Indigenous knowledge and learning embedded in memory, history, and story.

Recommended for these subject areas: English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.

This is the first book in the UpRoute Indigenous Spirit of Nature Series.

Additional Information
64 pages | 5.50" x 8.50" | 25 b&w illustrations |18 colour illustrations | Dene translation by Jane Modeste (Dene).

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$16.95

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Turtle Island: The Story of North America's First People
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;

Unlike most books that chronicle the history of Native peoples beginning with the arrival of Europeans in 1492, this book goes back to the Ice Age to give young readers a glimpse of what life was like pre-contact. The title, Turtle Island, refers to a Native myth that explains how North and Central America were formed on the back of a turtle. Based on archeological finds and scientific research, we now have a clearer picture of how the Indigenous people lived. Using that knowledge, the authors take the reader back as far as 14,000 years ago to imagine moments in time. A wide variety of topics are featured, from the animals that came and disappeared over time, to what people ate, how they expressed themselves through art, and how they adapted to their surroundings. The importance of story-telling among the Native peoples is always present to shed light on how they explained their world. The end of the book takes us to modern times when the story of the Native peoples is both tragic and hopeful.

Educator Information
The Canadian Indigenous Books for School list recommends this resource for Grades 6-9 for Social Studies.  It is also listed as a Teacher Resource.

Additional Information
Paperback: 116 pages
Physical Dimensions: 7.50" x 9.30"

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$16.95

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We Sang You Home / Ka Kîweh Nikamôstamâtinân
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Preschool; Kindergarten; 1; 2;

In this sweet and lyrical book from the creators of the bestselling Little You, gentle rhythmic text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. A celebration of the bond between parent and child, this is the perfect song to share with your little ones.

Internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author Richard Van Camp teams up with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett for a second time to create a stunning book for babies and toddlers.

Educator Information
This paperback book is a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition of the We Sang You Home board book.

Recommended for Grades K-2 for the following subject areas: English Language Arts, Indigenous Language, Social Studies.

Additional Information
Translated by Mary Collins.

Authenticity Note: The text and images in this story are meant to appeal to and honour a variety of families, not only Indigenous families.  This edition's addition of the Cree translation makes it a wonderful resource for Indigenous language learning.

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$6.95

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Welcome Song for Baby / Ni Nikamon ‘Tawâw Nipepîmis’
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Preschool; Kindergarten; 1; 2;

From renowned First Nations storyteller Richard Van Camp comes a lyrical lullaby for newborns. Complemented with stunning photographs, this evocative board book is perfectly suited as a first book for every baby.

Educator Information
This paperback book is a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition of the board book Welcome Song for Baby.

Recommended for Grades K-2 for these subjects: English Language Arts, Indigenous Language, Social Studies.

Additional Information
Translated by Mary Collins.

Authenticity Note: The images and text in this story are not specifically Indigenous. The addition of the Cree translation to this new edition, however, makes it a wonderful Indigenous language learning resource.

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$6.95

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When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Calendar - Pisimwasinahikan
Artists:
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: Kindergarten; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5;

A bear sleeping safely in her den, Kohkom telling a story by the fire, the trees crackling with cold—we are all connected to the seasons and the cycle of nature. The calming rhythm of the words echoes the rhythm of the land in this timeless picture book about the moon calendar of the northern Cree, and its warmly rendered watercolour illustrations bring Saskatchewan’s north to life.

When the Trees Crackle with Cold is written in English and the northern Plains Cree y-dialect, inviting Cree and non-Cree speakers alike to explore the traditional moon calendar.

Educator Information
Recommended Grades/Subjects: K-5: English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.

Written in English and northern Plains Cree y-dialect.

Additional Information
32 pages | 9.00" x 9.00"

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$12.95

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