In celebration of National Aboriginal Day June 21, here’s a list of children and teen titles to explore.
• The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie – Best-selling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of budding cartoonist Junior who leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other First Nations person is the school mascot.
• Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices, by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy – A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.
• Lost Innocence, by Brandon Mitchell – A teen graphic novel published by the Healthy Aboriginal Network, based on documented real life experiences of a brother and sister’s time in a residential school in the 1930s.
• Orca Chief, by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd – Orca Chief is the third in a series of Northwest Coast legends titles by artist Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd. Their previous collaborations, Raven Brings the Light (2013) and Cloudwalker (2014), are award-winning national bestsellers.
• Path of the Warrior, by Richard Van Camp – Another teen graphic novel published by the Healthy Aboriginal Network. When Cullen is kicked out of his gang, he is forced to reconnect with his family and community. Team sports, coaching and engaging with his culture become part of his powerful new support system.
• Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, by Danielle Daniel – In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal.
• The Song Within My Heart, by David Bouchard – Award-winning author David Bouchard adds rhythmic and informative text based on remembrances from Allen Sapp’s own Cree childhood. Renowned Native painter Allen Sapp’s inspired and stunning artwork beautifully complements this sweet story of a boy preparing for his first powwow.
• Thunder Boy Jr., by Sherman Alexie – National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie’s lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales’s striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.
• Wild Berries, by Julie Flett – Wild Berries is the beautiful tale of a young boy who spends a summer day picking wild blueberries with his grandmother. Exploring the important tradition of berry-picking for Metis and Cree people, it also honours a unique language.
• Wild Eggs: A Tale of Arctic Egg Collecting, by Suzie Napayok-Short – Summer vacation becomes exciting when Akuluk goes egg hunting with her grandparents in the Arctic.
Sarah Isbister is the Children & Family Literacy Librarian at the Oak Bay Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.