One day, Giniw and Okomissan (his grandmother) decided to go in the canoe to Moccasin Creek. Giniw wanted to wear his new leather boots. After some time of paddling, he noticed that one of the ribs in the canoe was cracked. This had never happened before when he wore his moccasins, making him wonder if hadn't the boots caused the trouble. Okomissan assured him that the canoe was still strong even if one piece was damaged, that it gained it's strength from a combination of all the component parts. Giniw realized that it was the same with his family, that they functioned as a group. I won't relate the entire story to you, I'll leave that for you to explore with your child. Let me say that the story provides several launching points for you to talk with your child about choices, families and communities.
One of the most unique features of this book is how Mr. Meshake has entwined the English and Ojibwe language. The text runs fluidly from one language to the next. In most cases the reader can determine the meaning from the surrounding text, thought there is a dictionary at the back of the book for all the Ojibwe words.
The artwork in this book is captivating. It appears that the drawings are superimposed on backgrounds of rock and bark, though I can't say that some aren't really rock paintings. I particularly like the images of the beaver and the canoe paddle. A fun activity to do with your child would be to decorate canoe paddle and moccasin outlines with pictures that mean something in your family.
My father wore moccasins as casual footwear his whole adult life. I think it had to do with wearing steel toed boots every day at work. After he passed away, mom and I decided that we would send him on his way, wearing his favourite footwear, his latest pair of moccasins.
Also by Rene Andre Meshake:
The Copper Axe
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