Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Vanquishing The Black Snake by Being A Steward Of The Planet

... and being a "Water Protector."

Nonfiction+Picture+Book+Challenge+2020

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.


We Are Water Protectors (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Carole Lindstrom Art by Michaela Goade
Published by Roaring Brook Press(2020)
ISBN: 1250203554 (ISBN13: 9781250203557). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

From the title alone with this steady-eyed, brown young girl holding a feather as a central figure in the cover, I was already taken by the book and its title declaring what we are: we are water protectors, inviting the reader into the advocacy, no matter the reader’s age.

As the story invites the reader in, showing our connectedness through water, “the first medicine,” and the very air around us, the narrator also speaks about a common enemy: a “black snake that will destroy the land.” As I was writing this post, I immediately thought that perhaps it isn’t really the black snake but the black worm that eats at man’s heart feeding greed and envy with a rapaciousness that simply won’t quit.

The narrative demonstrates that we have a choice: to be a steward of the earth and a water protector, following the natural path OR to walk the “hard-surfaced highway where everything moves faster and faster, at an unimaginable speed” – embracing technology at the expense of sustainability and the earth being able to breathe.

The Author’s Note, at the end, also spoke about these two paths in detail, and provided the historical backdrop from which the story was based: when the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stood up against the Dakota Access Pipeline in April 2016. This has been covered in both mainstream news media reports and social media – I remember this quite distinctly.

There were also lines in the Author’s Note that made me realize just how apt this book is given our current reading theme:

In Ojibwe culture, women are the protectors of the water and men are the protectors of the fire. Perhaps it is for that reason that I felt compelled to speak for the water through this story. Humans have been mistreating Mother Earth for millennia, and Indigenous Peoples have long acted as stewards of the planet, giving a voice to our silent home.

This story shows that we as a people can come together in solidarity, in faith, in will. While we may not win all our battles, it doesn’t mean that we should stop fighting nonetheless to protect the earth we live in. This is a beautiful book. I predict it will win all them awards next year.


#ReadIntl2020 Update: Both author and illustrator are indigenous people. Carole Lindstrom is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. Michaela Goade is an enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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