The Small Press Spotlight has another graphic novel for young readers (ages 9 through 11) to add to our growing list of exciting titles for kids. This one is another entry from HighWater Press–The Gift of the Little People. Written by award-winning Rocky Cree scribe William Dumas, the story centers on a small Rocky Cree community that is plagued by a highly contagious disease leading to death after their first contact with Europeans. As people die all around, help comes from an unexpected place: The Little People. Illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson, the tale is part of the Six Seasons of The Asiniskaw Ithiniwak Series.
Read details below:
“Helpless to stop the spread of a deadly sickness, Rocky Cree Elder Kākakiw must travel to the home of the Little People to find a cure before it’s too late.
I don’t recall seeing books when I was a little boy. But the old people, they grew up listening to stories. And so, every night, when the old people were done their evening prayers, they would sit and they would tell us stories too.
At the time of the spring thaw, the Rocky Cree fill their canoes with furs, eager to trade with the new visitors in mistiwāsahak (Hudson Bay). But not all of the new visitors are welcome. When the canoes return home to the shores of the misinipī river, the Rocky Cree begin to collapse one by one, drenched in sweat and slowly slipping into delirium. Kākakiw struggles to help the sick as more and more people pass into the spirit world. Exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, he seeks guidance through prayer.
Hope finally comes with a visitor in the night: one of the Little People, small beings who are just like us. If Kākakiw can journey to their home, he will be given the medicine his people need. All he has to do is paddle through a cliff of solid bedrock to get there.
To save his people from certain death, Kākakiw must overcome doubt to follow the traditional teachings of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak and trust in the gift of the Little People.”
Dumas is known for the award-winning illustrated history, Pīsim Finds Her Miskanaw. His new graphic novel explores the language, culture, knowledge, territory, and history of the Rocky Cree people while offering a vital message about hope in the face of adversity. It also sheds light on “struggling health systems, determination in fighting contagious viruses, overcoming doubt and uncertainty, and the power of community.”
Take a look at the cover below and click here to purchase your copy.