Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 2 to 8
- Grade: p to 3
A young boy spends a summer day picking wild blueberries with his grandmother in this beautiful new picture book by award-winning illustrator Julie Flett. Exploring the important tradition of berry-picking, the story is written completely in the Cree language.
This book is set in n-dialect, also known as Swampy Cree from the Cross Lake, Norway House area. A syllabics pronunciation guide is available at the end of this book.
An edition of Wild Berries written in both English & n-dialect Cree from the Cumberland House area is also available, published by Simply Read Books.
About the authors
Julie Flett is an award-winning Cree-Metis author, illustrator and artist. She has received many awards, including the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You, written by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and the Canadian Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award in 2015 for Dolphins SOS, written by Roy Miki (Tradewind Books) and in 2017 for My Heart Fills with Happiness, written by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books), and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her book Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L’alphabet di Michif). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014-2015.
Awards for Owls See Clearly at Night:
Nominated for the 2010 GG Awards, Children's Literature - Illustration
Winner of the 2010 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, IBBY
First Nation Communities Read (FNCR) 2010 Nominated Title, 2010
Honorable Mention for the 2011 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award Shortlist
Winner of the 2011 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, BC Book Prizes
Alcuin Society Book Design Awards Honor Book
Globe & Mail - Chosen as one of Susan Perren's top 10 children's books of 2010!
""Starkly simple, beautiful illustrations embellish an enchanting alphabet book that pays homage to Métis culture, especially its endangered language.""
Globe & Mail - Susan Perren, Review
It's not always the case that a work of art and a ""teachable moment"" intersect but, most happily, they do in Julie Flett's remarkable Michif/English alphabet book.
Flett, a Métis artist living in Vancouver, introduces her book by noting, “Languages are precious; they capture the very essence of a culture. The exceptional night-sight of owls is akin to the insight that language offers in understanding a culture.”
Once spoken by hundreds of thousands across the Canadian Prairies and the northern United States, Michif, the language of the Métis people, is now endangered. Métis elders in scattered parts of North America may still speak the language, but the young are largely monolingual English speakers. Recently, an awareness that the impending death of Michif will result in the dying out of Métis culture has resulted in a renewed interest in learning the language.
Julie Flett’s alphabet book, an important step in this direction, will be enjoyed by anyone with a burgeoning interest in letters and language.
A is for “Atayookee!” (Tell a story!); B is for “Li Bafloo” (Buffalo); M is for “Mawishow” (He/she is picking berries); V is for “Li Vyalon” (Fiddle) and Z is for “Lii Zyeu” (Eyes).
All the other letters of the English alphabet are present and accounted for here except q and x, for which there are no sounds in Michif. Flett’s choice of object or expression and her illustrations for each give her book a lovely sparkle.
Her two-page paintings accompanying each letter are simple, crisp and elegant and seem to tease out what is essential in, or intrinsic to, for instance, owl, leaf, snow, barley or rain.
This book is shortlisted for the 2010 Governor-General's Award for Children's Literature - Illustration.
TimeOut New York Kids - Picture book pick
""The gorgeous, bilingual ABC book Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet introduces kids—and, likely, parents—to the language and culture of the Métis people of North America. Digitally enhanced silhouettes rely on a simple, striking palette that illustrates words in the Michif language, a combination of native Cree and Salteaux, plus French (a pronunciation guide at the back may or may not help with some of the tongue-twisty vocabulary). A single word may convey an entire sentence (”M” is for “Manishow,” which means “He/she is picking berries”), or be so close to English as to be almost guessable, even without the accompanying picture (”B” is for “Li Bafloo,” or “the buffalo”). If the bilingual format is a bit much for kids just learning the alphabet, poring over the images is its own reward. Look for clever details like a wolf sticking his tongue out to catch “la pwii” (rain), or the bear hiding behind a tree, hoping for a taste of “la galet” (or bannock, a type of flat bread). Field trip idea: Consider pairing a reading with a visit to the a href=""http://newyorkkids.timeout.com/venues/financial-district/6582/national-museum-of-the-american-indian"">National Museum of the American Indian.
""In Owls See Clearly at Night, Julie Flett’s beautiful and elegant illustrations eloquently describe the Michif alphabet. Each letter’s vignette is thought-provoking, depicting elements of the natural world in an illumination of meaning. The letters appear deceptively simple at first glance, but in fact each contains its own mysterious, lyrical story."" - Tough City Writer
Vancouver’s Julie Flett presents a Michif (the Cree/French/Gaelic language of the prairie Métis) alphabet book in Owls See Clearly at Night (Simply Read, 56 pages, $18.95, ages 3+). Flett’s art of paint, ink and collage — a mixture of traditional and digital —is austere, elegant and highly evocative of the landscape and culture whence it comes. Each letter represents a Métis word and its English translation. A visual and linguistic delight.