Reviewed by Jean Mendoza
Little Zoe and her dad are feeding their horses when Zoe is captivated by a fawn lying under an aspen tree nearby. Dad takes a picture. Zoe wonders where the fawn’s mother is, and Dad suggests they look for her. They walk through the spring landscape, spotting a series of creatures that Zoe suspects could be the fawn’s mother: a flicker, a rabbit, and a rainbow trout. No, Dad tells her each time, that is not the fawn’s mother. Finally, they turn around and head back. Again they see the flicker, the rabbit, and the trout, and this time Zoe is the one asserting, “That is not the fawn’s mother.” When they arrive back at the aspen tree, there is the fawn – with its mother. Dad snaps another picture. The horses are glad to see Zoe and her dad.
Jameson tells the story of this Okanagan father and daughter with relatively simple English vocabulary, with some repetitive phrases that invite children’s participation during read-alouds. She also incorporates the Okanagan (Syilx) animal names in parentheses.
Utter ignorance of how to pronounce those words sent me to the Okanagan Nation Web site. (There’s no pronunciation guide in Jameson’s book.) There I learned that the language is nsyilxcən, and that in July 2018, the Okanagan Nation general assembly adopted the Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration expressing the people’s commitment to the “protection, revitalization and advancement” of their language. There’s something both loving and powerful in that declaration. I was grateful that the info about it included comments from some of the Okanagan leaders who were present. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip: “This is an international standard of nationhood. Forty-five years ago, the majority of our people were fluent, sadly that’s not the case anymore. This Declaration is a public expression of intent to stay together. This Declaration contains our laws on how we take care of our culture and everything that represents. Without the language it’s impossible to undertake these tasks. It’s at the core of our being, there’s no question.” And Chief Byron Louis stated that the Declaration was “the most significant document I have ever signed.”
So – those animal names Catherine Jameson uses in Zoe and the Fawn back in 2006 have important context. Continue reading.
Zoe and the Fawn by Catherine Jameson
Published by Theytus Books on 2006
Genres: American Indians, First Nations, Metis, Inuit
Reading Level: Grades 1-2
Review Source: American Indians in Children's Literature
Buy at Powell's Books
Publisher's Synopsis: An adventure begins when Zoe finds a lone fawn in the forest and helps search for its mother. But who could be the mother...a bunny, a fish? Join Zoe and her father as they encounter many woodland animals and learn their Native names along the way.