My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

My Heart Fills With Happiness is a simple and charming board book to share with your baby or toddler. The beautiful illustrations by Flett show small children engaged joyously in everyday things – watching bannock bake, singing with an older sibling, dancing in the sun, holding a parent’s hand, while the text repeats, “My heart fills with happiness when …” every few pages. As is usual with Flett’s illustrations, there are lots of details to linger over, providing good opportunities for conversation and language-building interaction. Look! Do you see the puppy? What’s it doing? Can you find the ladybugs in the flowers? What’s that? Is it a frog? Do you think the boy sees the frog? It ends by addressing the child directly, “What fills your heart with happiness?” leaving room for more conversation and reflection.

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Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, by Drew Hayden Taylor

 

Reviewed by Kayla Nye

Motorcycles and Sweetgrass is a fictional story based on an Anishnawbe legend. When a stranger rolls into town on his motorcycle before the death of an elder, the little Anishnawbe community becomes less settled, as drama begins to unfold. The band council purchased a piece of land and the community goes wild. The chief is bombarded with suggestions on what to do with the newly purchased land; however she is less focused on that than the new stranger on his motorcycle. The chief’s son discovers a trait about the motorcyclist who has won his mother’s heart, and he tries his best to save his mother, with the help of his uncle. This story is guaranteed to give you a chuckle.

Postscript by Library Manager – This is a real laugh-out-loud story full of vivid characters with an important message about the necessity of a bit of spontaneity and even chaos in your life to shake you up and give you a new perspective on things. Highly recommended by both of us!

The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir

 

reviewed by Kayla Nye

The Education of Augie Merasty is a brief memoir of attending the St. Therese residential school in Sturgeon Landing, Saskatchewan from 1935-1944, which is written by David Carpenter;  however the story was told by Joseph Augie Merasty. It reveals the many hardships Native and Métis children experienced during that time.

In this memoir, Augie exposed his traumas to the audience; he tells about the Hitler-worshipping Brother, the Sister who would strike children for farting, and the many sexual assaults he witnessed or experienced. He also explains how his life had turned out after being released.

In 75 pages this book has taught me very much about cultural genocide and just how important it is to know how these people were treated.

Kiss of the Fur Queen, by Tomson Highway

A bestseller when it was published in 1998, Kiss of the Fur Queen follows two Cree brothers, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis, renamed Jeremiah and Gabriel, from their early childhood, residential school and the abuse endured there, through years lost and estranged from their family and at times strangers to each other. As they grow into adulthood they struggle in different ways with their past and with the religion imposed on them, with depression and alcoholism and the impulse to self-destruction in many forms, Gabriel’s troubles having yet another layer added to them by his homosexuality in a decade more homophobic than our own, when the (first-world) AIDS crisis was at its height. Each finds his own means of survival in pursuing the passions that drive him, music and composition in Jeremiah’s case, dance in Gabriel’s. Woven through are the traditional Cree stories they learnt in their earliest years, taking on new life around and through them and the art they create, the lives they live. More than metaphor, the trickster Fur Queen moves through it all, claiming the brothers as her own. Not an easy read nor always a comfortable one, and certainly not meant to be, Kiss of the Fur Queen is beautiful and passionate, tragic, poetic, and sometimes humorous. This is a novel that reveals more on repeated readings and well deserves to be regarded as a classic of Canadian literature.