Saturday, November 14, 2015


Check out the cover for Richard Van Camp's A Blanket of Butterflies:

Gorgeous, isn't it? A Blanket of Butterflies, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, is new this year (2015) from Highwater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press in Canada. That sword? It is a key piece of this story.

When you open the cover, here's the first page:

As the story opens, Sonny is at the Northern Life Museum in Fort Smith, Northwest Territory. He's looking at a samurai suit of armor when he notices a man who is also looking at it. The man's name is Shinobu. See the paper he's pulling from his coat? He's at the museum with a specific purpose: to pick up that suit. It belongs to his family. The museum staff worked to identify who it belongs to, and then got in touch with Shinobu's family.

I gotta say--I love how Van Camp's story gets going--and here's why. So many things in museums are there due to theft and exploitation. Grave robbing of Native graves is rampant. Native protests led Congress to take action. In 1990, Congress wrote the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to help tribal peoples reclaim remains and artifacts (see the FAQ). That law, and A Blanket of Butterflies, is all about dignity and humanity, for all peoples.

Back to the story...

There's something missing from the display. A sword. Shinobu learns where it is and sets out to get it, but Sonny knows where it is, too, and he also knows that it is risky for Shinobu to go there alone. Sonny follows him, and strikes up a conversation, noting that Shinobu has a butterfly tattoo on his hand. Things don't go well. Shinobu gets hurt...

Yesterday (Friday, November 14) I listened to Acimowin on CJSR, an independent radio station in Edmondton, Canada. The guest? Richard Van Camp. I listened to him talk about A Blanket of Butterflies and wish you could have heard him, too. There's a grandma in this story. She's the hero. Hearing him talk about her... awesome.

Get a copy of A Blanket of Butterflies for your library or classroom, or for your own young readers. I really like it and highly recommend it.

And--check out that weekly radio show, Acimowin, too, on Friday mornings. You can listen online. One of the best things people who write, review, edit, or publish children's and young adult literature can do, is listen to Native voices. Learn who we are, and what we care about. It'll help you do a better job at writing, or reviewing, or editing, or selecting, or... deselecting! Acimowin is hosted by Jojo, who tweets from @acimowin. I laughed out loud more than once, listening to the banter between these First Nations people... (Note: the radio show is not for young kids.) Love the graphics for the show!

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