Wild Berries, by Julie Flett

Wild Berries, by author-illustrator Julie Flett, is an account of a day in the woods, as Clarence goes blueberry-picking in a clearing with his grandmother. There are two editions of this book, one in English, with a few words also given in Cree, and one (Pakwa Che Minisu) entirely in Swampy Cree. The story itself is simple and sparse, suitable for reading to very young children or for beginning readers to try on their own. The Cree words, one per page, and the word they translate are printed in a large, contrasting font, and the Cree is also visually distinguished by being set in a different colour, so that a child reading for themselves can sound them out and learn something new, or pass over them without feeling they have failed at something , as their reading ability allows.

What particularly distinguishes this book, which was honoured as the 2014-2015 First Nation Communities Read choice, is Flett’s beautiful artwork. The muted colours and clean-edged figures of animals, people, and trees create both a quiet mood and a sharp clarity; there is a sense of peace and late-summer heat, with the red sun beating down. One can almost hear the crickets.

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