Treaty Words: For As Long As the Rivers Flow

Annick. Mar. 2021. 60p. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781773214962.
Gr 4-6–This warm, thoughtful book about kinships and history may struggle to find its audience. Too short to be a chapter book and too long to be a picture book, it covers high level concepts and so cannot be used for transitional readers. An Anishinaabe girl and her grandfather enjoy the spring thaw along the river, an annual tradition for them. They observe nature where “They knew that all of this would be happening with or without them, that they were such a small part of creation.” He tells her stories of treaties between the creator and its animal and human creations, and treaties between people. The granddaughter absorbs all her elder says about their connection to the land, and the reason: “the treaty is for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow.” Soft color sketches with minimal details show their day on the river, with their creation myths and history depicted in cool tones. In most scenes the river cuts across the earthy colors in a vivid blue swash. Anishinaabe words are used, and some terms can be understood in the context of the narrative; there is no glossary. An author’s note takes on the importance of “respect, responsibility, and renewal,” which are the focus of the story.
VERDICT This quiet contemplative account of learning to live with nature and together as people has a place in every collection, and while its meditative tone will appeal to older and more advanced readers, it could be the centerpiece of a story hour for younger listeners.

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