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Children's Nonfiction Inspirational & Personal Growth

Mwâkwa Talks to the Loon

by (author) Dale Auger

Heritage House Publishing
Initial publish date
Jun 2024
Inspirational & Personal Growth, Birds
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2024
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2024
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 8


The award-winning story of a young Cree man blessed with the skills of a great hunter, who learns not to take his talents for granted.

Kayâs is a young Cree man blessed with a gift that makes him a talented hunter. He knows the ways of the animals he hunts and can even talk with them in their own languages. But when he becomes arrogant and takes his abilities for granted, he loses his gift. Without his ability to hunt, his people grow hungry. But with the help of the Elders and the Beings that inhabit the water, Kayâs learns to cherish and respect the talents and skills he has been given. Illustrated with the powerful paintings of the late Dale Auger, this new edition of the award-winning Mwâkwa Talks to the Loon teaches valuable lessons and includes a Cree glossary and pronunciation guide.

About the author

Dale Auger, PhD, (1958–2008) was a Sakaw Cree artist and storyteller from the Bigstone Cree Nation in northern Alberta. He was born in High Prairie, Alberta, near that province’s second-largest body of water, Lesser Slave Lake. As a young boy he went to school in Faust, near the Driftpile Reserve, where his knack for painting brought him recognition as the “school artist.” He attended the Alberta College of Art in 1988, and studied at the University of Calgary for 10 years, obtaining a master’s degree in education in 1996 and a PhD in education in 1999. His book Mwâkwa Talks to the Loon was named Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year at the 2006 Anskohk Aboriginal Literature Festival and Book Awards and also received the 2007 R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature. He lived in Bragg Creek, Alberta, until his untimely death in September 2008. He was posthumously honoured as the 2009 inductee into the Western Art Show’s Hall of Fame at the Calgary Stampede.

Dale Auger's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“This gorgeously illustrated and told story by the late and great Dale Auger tells the story about not taking your gifts for granted. What a timeless book, a modern day fairy tale and teaching story all wrapped up into one.”
—Richard van Camp, author of Gather: Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytelling

“This engaging read speaks to the relationships that people hold with all the animals in nature. It carries the Indigenous worldview of respect, reciprocity, relations, and reverence for other beings. It also demonstrates the importance of humility and not hubris, all in a wonderfully illustrated package. Highly recommended!”
—Colette Poitras, citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Indigenous Library Advisor, Government of Alberta

“Kayâs, a famous hunter, allows pride to destroy his prowess and skill. The Elders help him gain humility by calling on the loon and teaching the people to be respectful and honour the animals who offer themselves. Auger’s stunning paintings vividly capture the beauty of the north.”
—IBBY Canada, From Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books

“Auger’s masterful integration of language and art creates an important work with boundless relevance well beyond that of the Cree culture. This is a book for one and all. Highly Recommended.”
CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Librarian Reviews

Mwâkwa Talks to the Loon: A Cree Story for Children

A Cree tale about pride and gratitude. Mwâkwa Talks to the Loon tells the story of a young man who loses his talent for hunting when he takes it for granted. When his people are hungry and Mwâkwa can no longer provide for them, he goes to the Elders for help. The send him to Loon where an old debt is paid and a new one undertaken. Cree words are interspersed in the story without detracting form the content. A glossary at the end of the book provides definitions. Colour illustrations support and expand the text.

This book won the The Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year. Auger is a Sakaw Cree.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

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