Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Niwechihaw/I Help by Caitlin Dale Nicholson w/ Leona Morin-Neilson

Pages: 32
Age range: 2-5
Publisher: Groundwood Books (March 2008)
Source of book: Review copy from publisher

Niwechihaw/I Help by Caitlin Dale Nicholson w/ Leona Morin-Neilson

I'm always on the lookout for books that celebrate different cultures, help children feel a sense of pride in their heritage, and encourage children to develop an understanding and appreciation of a culture that may be different from their own. In just 24 beautifully-illustrated pages, Niwechihaw/I Help, Caitlin Dale Nicholson's bilingual picture book in Cree and English achieves this.

In the book, a young Tahltan* boy follows his "kôhkom," or grandmother through the bush picking rosehips. He observes and imitates her as she walks, listens, prays, etc., and along the way, learns more about his culture.

Written in simple repetitive phrases, the Cree word is followed by the English word.
"Kôhkom pimohtew./ Kôhkom walks./Nipimohtan./I walk."

Nicholson's soft acrylic-on-canvas illustrations give the book a feeling of reverence and awe and focus on the beauty of the earth and the loving relationship between the boy and his Kôhkom.

At the end of book is a recipe for rosehip tea, again written in both Cree and English. My only wish is that the book had a pronunciation key for the Cree words or an accompanying CD so children could hear the beauty of the language spoken by a native Cree speaker.

This is a special book that Tahltan children will cherish. Nicholson's message to her children at the end of the book sums it up: "I hope you stay strong and proud of who are you as Tahltan people with good minds and hearts. This book reflects the education that the elders are giving you...."

Even if you're not Tahltan, Niwechihaw/I Help, is a great introduction to Native American cultures and will help your child develop an interest in and respect for different cultures.

*The Taltan are a Native American people located in the northern British Columbia area. .

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