Siha Tooskin (Paul) is an 11 year old Nakota boy. This series helps us understand what his life is like. Jeff, his new non indigenous friend is accompanying Paul and his Uncle Lenard to a powwow. It’s Jeff's first time and he’s excited to be seeing everything Paul has told him about. Paul and Uncle Lenard are both dancers. In this book Jeff and readers learn about the history of the powwow and the different kinds of dances.
There is a lot to love about this book. I liked that Jeff and Paul were responsible and worked together to set up their camp and Jeff was mindful that Paul needed to get into his regalia so he finished up this chore. I liked the camaraderie and joking between all of them. I appreciated that Jeff and other non indigenous readers learn about a time in history when powwows, potlatches and other indigenous gatherings were outlawed. Like Jeff I was fascinated by how the different dances have been adopted from different places and how they have evolved over time.
I was a bit surprised by this book because given the number of pages, I expected it to be a picture book. Instead it’s an illustrated short story. It’s a bit didactic (to me at least,) but I’m ok with that because I doubt student readers will be as cognizant of this.
Chloe Bluebird Mustooch’s illustrations are bright and colourful. I have mixed feelings about the cartoon eyes, especially after looking at her portfolio on line. Her more realistic art is absolutely stunning.
I hope to see this series of books in every school library across Canada. Not only will they be integral to understanding indigenous perspectives, the short length will make them satisfying for reluctant readers.
After reading this book I am especially looking forward to attending Hoobiyee 2020 this coming February. I will understand the dancing much better!