Description: These two books explore concepts of Canada’s history, Indigenous Peoples, family, self-realization, friendship, change, determination, and Reconciliation. Author Mary Harelkin Bishop spent her career as a teacher and teacher librarian, working mostly in core neighbourhood schools in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Within the umbrella of the Saskatoon Tribal Council, she helped teachers and students in seven schools research and write about their history. These Indigenous teacher colleagues encouraged Mary to use her author skills to write books that further educate children about Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Canadian history, and steps toward Reconciliation. They acted as consultants on these award-winning books, both illustrated by Heaven Starr.
In Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, Danny lives on the family farm homesteaded by his great-grandparents. When his Grade 6 teacher assigns a Canadian heritage project, Danny finds out about his great-grandmother’s journal. She tells of breaking the land and building and living in a sod house. She also tells of how the First Nations people in the area helped her and how she helped them after the buffalo disappeared and food became scarce. At school, Danny has been able to avoid close contact with the troublesome Zach, until now. The more Danny digs into his family’s history, the more he realizes that his and Zach’s pasts are complicated and connected. Awards/Honours: Honorable Mention, Young Adult, 2017 Hollywood Book Festival; Honourable Mention, Young Adult Fiction, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.
ISBN 978-1-927570-32-6; 5.25″w x 7.5″h; 184 pages; cover art and 9 illustrations by Heaven Starr. © 2016; Ages 10 and up; Children’s fiction; Reconciliation; Farming; Rural life; First Nations; Indigenous culture; Indigenous history; Co-operation; Education; Literacy; Learning resources; Saskatchewan author; Canadian.
In Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather, Skye and her friends are beginning a new school year at a shiny new school that doesn’t look or feel welcoming or as cozy as their old school did. Skye’s brother is excited about joining the football team and making new friends, but Skye can’t seem to adapt to this new environment. Although Skye tries to be brave and encouraging for her young sister Cheyenne, this new school’s library doesn’t have the books Cheyenne wants to read about their culture and history, and Cheyenne is confused. Skye’s teacher doesn’t understand and isn’t even trying to get to know her. Skye’s classmates laugh at her. Worse yet, the only activity she really loves is powwow dancing, but there is no such thing at this school and her principal won’t even consider the idea! Skye can’t stop thinking about dancing powwow and starting a Culture Club and Drumming Group at her new school – but how could that happen? One night, an old woman comes to Skye in a vision. She’s carrying an eagle feather … and Skye learns what she must do to make things right. Awards/Honours: Silver, Pre-teen Fiction, Historical / Cultural, 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards; Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018, Junior & Intermediate Fiction, The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. ISBN 978-1-927570-39-5; 5.25″w x 7.5″h; 160 pages; cover art and 10 illustrations by Heaven Starr. © 2017; Ages 10 and Up; Children’s fiction; Indigenous Peoples; First Nations; Self-realization; Friendship; Family; Change; Determination; Reconciliation; Canadian History; Literacy; Education; Learning resources; Prairie Provinces; Saskatchewan author; Canadian.
SK Curriculum: Grades 6-9 – ELA, Social Studies
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Responses from Readers:
- “I am a richer person for having read this wonderful, modern yet historical, insightful, caring, educational, loving, and yet fun-to-read story (Mistasiniy).”
- (Mistasiniy) “Teachers will read this and become better teachers. Kids will read it and become better friends. Parents will be better parents and neighbours will be better neighbours.”
- “I just finished reading Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather and loved it! The true-to-life characters and dialogue kept me turning the pages, wondering “What will Skye do?” I also appreciated the respectful way in which the story was told, acknowledging the story of Canadian Indigenous people and elevating the importance of telling that history and keeping it alive for current and future generations of all Canadians.”
- (Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather) “Wow! I loved this book. The characters are true to life and the content is dead-on insofar as what really happens to some Aboriginal people when they ‘try’ to fit in.”
- (Skye Bird) “A captivating story about a young First Nation girl’s spiritual journey of growth, strength, and determination.”