Thursday, March 26, 2009


[Note: This review may not be published elsewhere without written permission from its author, Beverly Slapin. Copyright 2008 by Beverly Slapin. All rights reserved.]

Solomon, Chad (Ojibwe), and Christopher Meyer, The Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws. Little Spirit Bear Productions, 2008, color art by Chad Solomon, grades 3-up

Modeled on the popular Asterix Adventures, these Ojibwe-centric graphic novels—two, so far—are set in eighteenth Century colonized North America. The protagonists are Ojibwe brothers dealing, in their inimitable ways, with their land-hungry new neighbors. Rabbit is a shrewd, cunning little guy, a headstrong kid who often confuses bravery with bravado. His younger brother, Bear Paws, is way larger and stronger, kind of gullible, and always ready to pull Rabbit out of a scheme-gone-awry. The two are good, likable kids, sprinkling themselves with spirit powder to transform into animals, trying to get out of trouble, trying to get out of chores, and generally remembering the old stories and the traditional lessons they impart. In “The Sugar Bush,” our young heroes encounter a troop of bumbling British soldiers who don’t speak Ojibwe and have no idea how to live on the land. In “The Voyageurs,” Rabbit and Bear Paws embark on what might be the single strangest journey in the history of the fur trade.

Young readers will enjoy following the adventures of Solomon’s and Meyer’s energetic young characters, and the joking and ironic word-plays between the Ojibwe adults and children and animals. Solomon’s appealing artwork is uncluttered, with light, bright colors and minimal inking; the font is a good size for the dialogue and the panels are easy to follow. And, no matter what happens, Rabbit and Bear Paws’ breechclouts stay remarkably in place.—Beverly Slapin


The Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws is available from Oyate.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lecture at U Wisc La Crosse

If you are in the area of La Crosse, Wisconsin, I'll be giving a lecture there next week. To register, contact Michele Strange at 608.785.8943 or send her an email. Her address is strange.mich at uwlax dot edu.

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Nation Communities Read

In 2003, First Nations public librarians in Ontario launched the First Nation Communities Read program. Books considered for their annual award are ones that (criteria is excerpted from their website):

  • are written and/or illustrated by, or otherwise involves the participation of a First Nation, Métis, or Inuit creator;
  • contains First Nation, Métis, or Inuit content produced with the support of First Nation, Métis, or Inuit advisers/consultants or First Nation, Métis, or Inuit endorsement.

The 2009 book is Which Way Should I Go, written by Sylvia Olsen with Ron Martin, illustrated by Kasia Charko. On the program's website, you can download a "tip sheet" for using the book. It includes links and programming ideas.

Prior books are:

2008 - Ancient Thunder, written and illustrated by Leo Yerxa, published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.

2006 - As Long as the Rivers Flow, written by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund, published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.

2005 - SkySisters, written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Brian Deines, published by Kids Can Press.

2004 - Solomon's Tree, inspired by Tsimpshian master carver Victor Reece, written by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Janet Wilson, published by Orca Book Publishing.

2003 - Dragonfly Kites, written by Tomson Highway, illustrated by Brian Deines, published by HarperCollins Canada.

Visit the site, and take a look at the posters created each year. They are gorgeous!