Reviewed by Debbie Reese
I settled in to do some reading last night. I reached for Dallas Hunt’s Awâsis and the World Famous Bannock. Amanda Strong’s illustrations drew me in as I turned the pages, following Awâsis as she sets out to take her grandma’s world-famous bannock to a relative.
Illustrated by Amanda Strong (you absolutely must watch her stop animation videos!) and published in 2018 by Highwater Press, I’m pleased as can be to recommend it. Here’s the description:
During an unfortunate mishap, young Awâsis loses Kôhkum’s freshly baked world-famous bannock. Not knowing what to do, Awâsis seeks out a variety of other-than-human relatives willing to help. What adventures are in store for Awâsis?
Like I said, I was reading along, enjoying the story. Awâsis talks to several animals on her way. Instead of the English words for them, Hunt gives us the Cree ones. When I got to her conversation with Ayîkis (frog) I smiled to see her words in bold and capital letters because Ayîkis is far away and Awâsis has to shout.
Then, I got to the page where she comes to Ôhô (Owl), who is drifting off to sleep. Awâsis speaks softly. The font is smaller. I like that, too. Ôhô wakes up and looks at Awâsis… and then I read this sentence and sat right up!
They swiveled their head back and forth and hooted.
They?! THEY?! (Yeah, I am using bold and capital letters to convey my delight…) Here’s that page:
Right away I started writing to friends in children’s literature to ask if they’ve seen a gender neutral pronoun before in a children’s picture book. The answer so far? No. This might be the first time a writer has put a gender neutral pronoun in a children’s picture book.
The one exception I’ve come across so far is a nonfiction picture book, They, He, She, Me: Free to Be! by Maya Christina Gonzales and Matthew Smith Gonzales, published in 2017. Are there others? If you know of one, let me know.
For now, I’m going to shout about this book to friends and colleagues in children’s literature. Published in 2018 by Highwater Press, Awâsis and the World Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt and Amanda Strong is highly recommended!
And make sure you check out the recipe and pronunciation guide at the end of the book… and the video, too! Continue reading.
Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt
Published by HIGHWATER on 2019-03
Genres: American Indians, First Nations, Metis, Inuit
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2
Review Source: American Indians in Children's Literature
Buy at Powell's Books
Publisher's Synopsis:This whimsical story celebrates the revitalization of Cree dialects and traditional methods of storytelling.
Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock highlights the importance of collaboration and seeking guidance from one's community, while introducing the Cree words for different animals and baking ingredients.