Tâpwê and the Magic Hat

Greystone. Jun. 2022. 152p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781771645461.
Gr 2-4–When Tâpwê, a young Cree boy, goes to stay with extended family on the other side of the reserve, his kohkom (grandmother) gives him a special gift: a hat made of feathers and woven porcupine quills with three bluebirds and three grass snakes living on top. She also offers a warning: Watch out for tricksters! But Tâpwê can’t resist when a mischievous rabbit named Wâpos starts playing tricks. The gullible boy receives support from family and friends who share their own humorous experiences with the trickster. One elder explains, “He [Wâpos] is the one who keeps us on our toes for mischief—especially in ourselves! You know!” Indigenous Canadian storyteller and songwriter Sainte-Marie draws on Cree stories and traditions, as well as her own experiences, to craft a simple but imaginative tale that unfolds in 16 short chapters, each with a black-and-white illustration. An author’s note explains that these are not “authentic” legends in a historic sense. The narrative excels in depicting daily life in a Cree community, including the joy of gathering chokeberries, swimming in the river, sleeping in a tipi, and attending a powwow. That Tâpwê appears younger in some drawings than in others may confuse or even deter some readers. Cree words are integrated into the text, with a glossary of terms appended.
VERDICT This episodic tale of a Cree boy and a trickster rabbit features interesting characters and a strong sense of place. A solid read-aloud choice for a general unit on tricksters.

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