Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.
Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in a new series, A Girl Called Echo, by Governor General Award–winning writer, and author of Highwater Press’ The Seven Teaching Stories, Katherena Vermette.
Vermette expertly juxtaposes the isolation of an aboriginal teen in the current day with the emphasis on working together in traditional Métis communities. Henderson’s artwork and Yaciuk’s colours help to emphasize the differences between the past and present, as gorgeous prairie panoramas in vibrant hues contrast with crowded, dingy hallways and buses. [...] This reviewer is eagerly awaiting the second volume of the series.
...feelings of alienation, of loneliness, of not belonging, either at home or at school, are experienced by both genders and those teens – male or female - who eat their lunch alone and wander the halls without friends will understand Echo's plight Although I think that Pemmican Wars is a book which will find its greatest readership amongst students with Métis or Indigenous heritage, those who are the descendants of settlers will be offered a new perspective with this book.
Henderson’s realistic art and perfect pacing, particularly in the pages of wordless panels depicting Echo’s daily routine, highlight her silent nature and hint at the source of her unspoken sadness. Solitary teens are likely to strongly identify with Echo and look forward to more of her adventures.