Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Recommended: BIRDSONG by Julie Flett

Add Julie Flett's Birdsong to your shelves! It is on several Best Books of 2019 lists and it got starred reviews from the major review journals.

Most of the reviews note Flett's artistic style and the seasonal arrangement of the story. Most note the growth of Katherena as she and her mom leave their home in the city, to a new one in the country where they meet an older woman named Agnes. And most reviewers note the Cree words in the book. It is great to see the reviews and the stars and the book being listed on year-end lists.

Now... what do I see, as I read Birdsong?

Well--this page in particular, caught my eye:

There, you see Katherena and her mom, together, beneath warm covers. I absolutely adore that page! When my daughter was little (well, to be honest, this happens even today), there were many times when we'd snuggle under the warm covers and she'd press her cold feet to my warmth, and squeal "icicles!" just before she did it. Such a fond memory, of warmth and of those cold feet, too!

There's another reason that particular illustration appeals to me. Parents and kids sleeping together is a natural thing amongst us at Nambé. So, it resonates with me as a Native mom. But--sleeping together sure as heck is not seen as natural in White society. I recall talking about it when we moved from Nambé to Illinois for graduate school. In my early conversations when we arrived in Illinois, White people expressed shock that our daughter was with us each night. I pretty much just kept that information to myself after that, but later (still in grad school), I learned that a lot of parents and kids sleep together--but nobody talks about it out of fear they'll be accused of spoiling their child. I also learned that parents and kids in many cultures around the world sleep together. During grad school, we lived in family student housing and made good friends with a family next door to us, from India. I'll never forget the many times Vijaya asked me "why?" about some thing that people in the US do, and I'd just shrug. Some things make no sense. In the ways my family live our lives, we are much more like Vijaya and her family than we are like White US families. And as noted earlier--more people in the US do it than admit to doing it, so I think there's gonna be a lot of folks smiling at that page as they read Birdsong. 

Teachers! Head over to the Greystone Books page for Birdsong and download the Teacher's Guide!

Clearly, I adore Julie Flett's Birdsong! Published in 2019 by Greystone Books, I recommend it, dearly.

1 comment:

Erika said...

I also noticed that page and smiled. My daughter comes and snuggles in with us most nights/early mornings whenever she wakes up, or if one of us is gone or getting home late she'll fall asleep with the other parent in our bed. I think (or I hope) that taboo among us white families is fading. We're such outliers with the rest of the world about it, and it mostly feels like a silly sort of class/social-group signalling at this point ("Look! We have multiple beds! We're bourgeois!!").