Saturday, May 02, 2015

Richard Van Camp's THE BLUE RAVEN

New this year (2015) is Richard Van Camp's graphic novel, The Blue Raven. Illustrated by Steven Keewatin Sanderson, the story is about a stolen bicycle, and, healing. Here's the cover:

The bike, named Blue Raven, belongs to a kid named Benji. He comes out of the library (how cool is that?) and his bike is gone (not cool!). Trevor, the older brother of a kid in his class, sees Benji and offers to help him find the bike.

This isn't just any bike (no bike is, really), but this one? Benji's dad gave it to him when he moved out of their house.

When Benji was born, his dad called him Tatso because his eyes were the same blue color as a baby raven's eyes. Tatso is a Tlicho word. It means Blue Raven.  And--it is the name his dad called the bike, too.

As you might imagine, it is very special to Benji.

We learn all that--and more--as Benji and Trevor drive around on Trevor's four-wheeler, looking for the bike. Trevor is Metis, but wasn't raised with Native traditions in the same way that Benji was. Indeed, there is a moment when Trevor mocks Benji. Confident in what he knows and bolstered by memories of time with members of the community, Benji counters Trevor, who is taken aback and a bit snarky. By the end of this short graphic novel, though, Trevor is with Benji at a gathering where Trevor is invited to dance and the two have agreed to keep looking for the Blue Raven.

Steven Keewatin Sanderson's illustrations are terrific! From anger over his bike being stolen, to the tears Benji sheds in the flashback parts of the story, to the community scenes at the drum dance, they are a perfect match for Van Camp's story. Keep an eye out for his work!

The Blue Raven, published in 2015 by Pearson, is part of its Well Aware series and sold as a package. However, it can be purchased directly from Richard Van Camp at his site. I highly recommend it.


Kristen Zayon said...

As a school librarian, I am wondering at the intended age range of this graphic novel. I would LOVE to have a graphic novel from a first nations perspective. Also, are there any other independent reviews that you could point me too?

Debbie Reese said...

Pearson is the publisher, and has it listed at 6th grade.

Independent reviews of the book? Or other sites like AICL? Not sure what you're looking for.