A Northern Tale
Caribou Song written by Tomson Highway, illustrated by John Rombough and published by Fifth House Ltd
Joe and Cody are brothers who live so far North the trees can't grow and the ground is frozen all year long. Their days are spent out on their sled pulled by eight huskies following the caribou. As children do, they enjoy playing games, singing, and dancing. One day they decide to sing and dance to drive ten thousand caribou to the clearing where they have stopped for a picnic. Joe played accordion, kitoochigan, and Cody danced with his arms raised like antlers and as they played and danced you could hear the thunder of ten thousand caribou.
Caribou Song is a Blue Spruce nominated title from 2002 and it's not hard to see why. The art work in this book is incredible. Using a simple colour palette, John Rombough creates scenes of great detail and beauty. His style brings to mind the paintings of Norval Morriseau, with thick black outlines and incredible movement. Each page bursts with jewel tone colours and is full of music, movement, and life. Especially wonderful, this book is written in both English and Ateek Oonagamoon, a local dialect of high Cree. Books such as Caribou Song share with us the traditions, way of life, language, music, and day to day love of the far northern First Nations people. When so many of these languages and traditions are dying because of the atrocities of the past, it's incredible that picture books can keep them alive for the future.
Kudos to Toronto Public Library for including a special sticker on these books marking them as Native Peoples stories so they are visible and available to all library patrons.