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.