Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Highwater Pr. Mar. 2019. 28p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781553797791.
PreS-Gr 2–Awâsis, a Cree child, stumbles on a baking adventure in this lighthearted picture book celebration of family recipes, new friends, and, of course, bannock. On her way to visit a relative, Awâsis is devastated when she accidentally drops Kôhkum’s world-famous bannock off a bridge. Fortunately, Sîsîp, Wâpos, Ayîkis, and Ôhô, a menagerie of generous woodland creatures, are happy to share almost all the ingredients needed to bake a new batch. Returning home, Awâsis finds Kôhkum and yet another new friend, Maskwa, ready with the one final ingredient they need to bake a new batch of world-famous bannock to share with everyone. The narrative follows a classic, predictable structure as Awâsis moves through the forest landscape, collaborating with each creature in turn. Cree vocabulary is seamlessly integrated into the story and easily decoded through context. Hunt’s text injects personality into each animal character, and variations in font size encourage those reading aloud to alter their volume for dramatic effect. Strong’s digital collage illustrations have the feel of watercolor paintings and create a safe, welcoming woodland environment. Awâsis, with her round face, ponytail, prominent ears, and bright blue overalls, is a captivating young protagonist. Back matter includes a recipe for bannock and a Cree pronunciation guide.
VERDICT Easily accessible to those new to Cree, this is a joyful tribute to the language and an engaging read-aloud about community and cooperation that will resonate with a wide range of preschool audiences

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