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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MINGAN my village, poems by Innu Schoolchildren. Illustrated by Roge. With the participation of Josephine Bacon, Rita Mestokosho and Laure Morali. Fifth House, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2014. $14.95 ages 6 and up

"There are beautiful things in my life
The green trees and the sky
Thousands of birds flying in the sky
Waterfalls with fish
The forest with its animals
When I listen to nature
It's like a very long song to me

- Kaylene"

This is a lovely and uplifting book of poetry, written by the children who go to school in Mingan, an Innu village in northeastern Quebec. As they are read, readers will begin to understand each of the poet's connections to their environment, their culture and their families.

In a foreword illustrator Roge tells about his connection to the Innu people and their art. He made some surprising discoveries:

"The sound of the Innu language resonated with me like a drum that carried me, not to a distant land, but to a familiar inner place; to a long-ago time to which I was somehow linked."

His visit resulted in fifteen photographs to accompany the fifteen poems written by the young poets whose voices you hear in this book. When he got home, he carefully considered the photos he had taken, looked into the eyes of the children he had met. Then, he painted their portraits to accompany their words.

"In the wind's light, the pain of the heart
The blue river
When I listen
I have a memory of my grandfather
He tells me he is well
This comforts me
I know he protects me
That he watches me
I cry when he is not beside me


For this work he was made a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award in Children's Literature - French Language Illustration in 2013. Well deserved!

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