Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Highly Recommended: ON THE TRAPLINE by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett


On the Trapline
Written by David A. Robertson (Member, Norway House Cree Nation)
Illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)
Published by Tundra Books
Published in 2021
Reviewer: Debbie Reese
Status: Highly Recommended


When most kids visit or travel with a grandparent to a special place, they drive or fly on a commercial airplane. For this trip, this grandfather and grandson start out on a small propeller airplane. 

On the Trapline is based on Robertson's visit--with his father--to his father's trapline. In the book launch he talked about going to that trapline. His father had not been to it since his childhood. Robertson had never seen it. For that father and son, then, it was a special moment when they would be walking, together, on homelands known to the father but not to the son. When his father stepped onto that homeland, Robertson said (in the book launch) that his dad seemed younger. Many of you may have had an experience like that with someone you love. I have. There is a joy that radiates from within. For me, and for Robertson, there is also a quiet to it all. Filled with so much! 

The visit that Robertson and his father took to the trapline became the exquisite picture book, On the Trapline. On the way to the trapline, the grandson asks questions about things he sees, and about things his grandfather talks about. Readers learn, for example, about the school Moshom went to where "all of us had to talk about learn in English." The grandson asks "Did you still get to speak Cree?" and his grandfather replies, "My friends and I snuck into the bush so we could speak our language." That language is on most pages of the book. On the page about Moshom's school, you'll find this sentence:
Ininimowin means "Cree language."
That is a deceptively simple set of words. They seem straightforward, and yet, they are filled with meaning! Here's a bit of the art that Julie Flett created for that page:

See? Children, in the bush. They look like they are playing. I imagine they are--but as they do--they speak to each other in Cree. 

When they get to the trapline, "Moshom's eyes light up." He points and says "That's my trapline." Then, there's more and more and more for this young Cree boy to learn about his grandfather's life on the trapline. 

Robertson and Flett's book received starred reviews from the major review journals. This occurred before, when they worked together on When We Were Alone. As was the case then, I highly recommend you get a copy of On the Trapline. 


1 comment:

Val Olafson said...

I love how well David A. Robertson's and Julie Flett's work go together. Their works are both so deceptively simple, and full and descriptive. I bought this book a few weeks ago, and can't stop showing it to teachers.