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.
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses’ Company) won the 2013 Governor General Literary Award for Poetry. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies, including Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. Her first novel The Break is a National Bestseller and a 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Scott B. Henderson has worked as an illustrator for comics, portraiture, and advertising art. He is author/illustrator of the sci-fi/fantasy comic, The Chronicles of Era and has illustrated two comics for the Canadian Air Force’s For Valour series, the bestselling graphic novel series 7 Generations, selected titles from the Tales From Big Spirit series, and the graphic novels, Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story and Eisner-award nominee, A Blanket of Butterflies.
Donovan Yaciuk has worked as colourist for such companies as Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse comics, honing his craft as a part of the legendary Digital Chameleon colouring studio. Donovan is a graduate of the University of Manitoba's School of Art.
"The graphic novel delves into a time period that many readers may know little about, offering particular resonance by connecting the past to a contemporary teen. Using only sparse text, the artist brilliantly includes details that give the story depth and specificity, not only in terms of the representation of the Métis nation, but also in Echo’s family dynamics and the intensity of her loneliness and isolation. Strong use of comics technique, a unique examination of a fascinating time of history, and the thoughtful narration by an aboriginal teen make this a must-read and a strong classroom or library choice."
- Meghann Meeusen, VOYA Magazine
Pemmican Wars is a short but ambitious graphic novel. Katherena Vermette's narrative runs on two levels: one is the story of a 13-year-old facing a number of life challenges (isolation within her school environment, a fractured relationship with her mother, and a search for identification with her Métis heritage), and the other being an historical account of decades of conflict between the Métis and the commercial interests and settlers of the area which became the Red River Colony. Compared to many graphic novels I have read, Pemmican Wars is not text-intensive; Echo is often monosyllabic in her responses, and the only teacher with dialogue is her history teacher. However, Henderson's drawings and Yaciuk's colourations combine powerfully in graphics which carry both narratives. The scenes of the buffalo hunt, life in the hunting camp, and the confrontation at Seven Oaks are vibrantly-coloured, conveying the intensity of the action, events, and family life of the Métis.
- Joanne Peters, CM Magazine
"A sparse, beautifully drawn story about a teen discovering her heritage." - Kirkus Reviews
"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." - Booklist
"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."
- Roseanne Gauthier, National Reading Campaign