Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer/Owls See Clearly at Night

As I watch the snow fall outside, I remember a book that I presented in Chicago last January at the Chicago Metro AEYC (Association for the Education of Young Children) meeting. That book is Julie Flett's Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer/Owls See Clearly at Night, published by Simply Read Books. Its subtitle is L'alphabet di Michif/A Michif Alphabet.

Flett is Metis. Her language, Michif, has prominence in the book. For example, on the 'A' page, she's got the letter 'A' and "Atayookee!" Beneath "Atayookee" is the phrase "Tell a story", which is what Atayookee means. That pattern continues throughout the book. The text is on the left of each double page spread. To the right is Flett's art.

Isn't the cover gorgeous?!

The rest of the book, is, too. Flett's art is stunning. Each page invites you to be with that page, studying the composition of what she gives you on that page.  Here's another page (the illustration is from the publisher's website; in the actual book, the text is on the left page):

And below is a scan of the page I showed at the conference (my scan is dark; the page itself is white as snow). It is the art for the 'I' page. "Itohteew" is the Michif text, and "He/she goes" is the English translation.

I also love the page that shows two Michif children wearing blue dresses and moccasins, dancing a jig. And I love the 'S' page: "Li Siiroo" which is Syrup. In the illustration, there's a cabin in the background. In the foreground is a tree with its tap and bucket. Peering at it is a dog, and a gorgeous black and red bird is flying towards the cabin. And I also like, well... Truth be told, I love this book, cover to cover! 

In the front of the book is an Introduction with information about the Metis people and the Michif language. There's a glossary in the back.

In preparing this post, I learned that in April of 2011, it won the 2011 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize in British Colombia.  And in August, it won the 2010 IBBY Canada Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award. Congratulations to Flett and her publisher, Simply Read Books!


Karen said...

Just sent an ILL out to check out the book! It is beautiful!

Caryn said...

Just saw this book from your new post about her art. This is stunning! Must check this out immediately!