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.
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.
Recognition is due Katherena Vermette’s collaborators on Echo – illustrator Scott B. Henderson and color artist Donovan Yaciuk. Because Echo speaks so seldom, it’s on the illustrations to convey key details about her life. And they do so with subtlety and grace! For example, the letters WPG on the front of a bus Echo rides signal that she's in Winnipeg. Or so I'm told.
-Jean Mendoza, American Indians in Children's Literature
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.