spotlight on…beauty, blueberries, and the Cree People

I’ve stumbled on a simply gorgeous book, coming out of Canada, which I want to highlight today.

wild berries cover image julie flettWild Berries = Pikaci-Minisa, written and illustrated by Julie Flett
published in 2013 by Simply Read Books

Oh, I love this book, for many reasons.

First, there are far too few books centered in the world of the First Peoples. This is a painful gap in our children’s literature. Furthermore, the vast majority of what I’ve seen focuses on memories of former times, and while that is rich and important, the absence of stories entwining these cultures with current, ordinary life, is troubling.  We need to do better, and this stunning book is exactly what I’m looking for.

Second, c’mon! it’s about picking wild blueberries! It’s the graceful, quiet, blueberries from wikipediastory of a boy and his grandmother out in the beauty of the woods, finding those plump,

My grandma and her beloved blueberries!

My grandma and her beloved blueberries!

purplish-blue, sweet-tart glories. As a little girl, I picked wild blueberries with my grandmother — the pluckiest, most devoted blueberry-picker there ever was. She made a blueberry pie to die for, bursting with tiny, juicy berries; purple treakly sweetness trickling out of a buttery, flaky, sugar-crisp crust. Mmmmmmmm! At our cabin on Lake Vermilion, wild berries polka-dot the shrubby underlayer beneath towering pines, and we pick as many as we can while beating off the biting ants, to fill our Swedish pancakes and munch by the handful. So — wild blueberry picking is right up my alley, as well as grandmothers, of course.

wild berries illustration julie flett from simplyreadbooks dot comThird — the artwork is incredible. Hushed by white space, and elegant in its compositions, lines, and color palette of mossy greens, bittersweet chocolates, and warm splashes of persimmon. Beautiful, striking, simplicity.

Fourth — Flett, who is Cree-Métis herself, includes Cree translations of just over a dozen key words as we walk through the book, one on each page. Blueberries are ininimina in wild berries illustration by julie flettthis dialect, for example. A pronunciation guide is included. I am intrigued by languages, and the Native American languages are especially poignant to see in print. These key words are set in a beautiful type font which adds to the grace of the pages.

Fifth — there’s a recipe for wild blueberry jam. Perfect.

blueberry mint jam from afarmgirlsdabbles dot comAs you can tell, I’m smitten with this little book and hope you’ll find a copy to enjoy with children ages 2 and up, or just for your own indulgence.