Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Zest. Nov. 2022. 304p. adapted by Monique Gray Smith. Tr $39.99. ISBN 9781728458984.
Gr 6 Up–This adaptation of Kimmerer’s (Potawatomi) adult book by the same name is filled with nuggets of wisdom, a wealth of information about plants, and a call to embrace the kinship between plants and humans. In her exploration of the properties of sweetgrass, the botanist discusses the plant through the lens of the scientific method, with terms like germinate and xylem, and Indigenous traditions. She admits the sometimes conflicting perspectives of these methods. However, she succeeds in creating a cohesive whole within this wondrous work, while also giving context to the many struggles that Native Americans have faced. Smith’s (Cree and Lakota) adaptation doesn’t talk down to teens but honors them as people who might remember the connection between plants and humans more than their adult counterparts. Sweetgrass, or Wiingaashk, is one of the first plants to grow on the Earth, according to Potawatomi tradition, and is held sacred by them and many other Native American nations. The design elements enhance the narrative, making the whole volume accessible and distinctive. This meditative work also features illustrations by Neidhardt (Diné) that are both delicate and powerful and range from spot art to full spreads. Green and white callouts define unfamiliar terms and present discussion questions. These elements combine to emphasize the importance and need to protect the environment and take care of our kin.
VERDICT A book that is entirely in a class of its own, this belongs in every collection for teens.

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