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Children's Fiction Multigenerational

The Song That Called Them Home

by (author) David A. Robertson

illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Multigenerational, NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Native Canadian
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3


From the award-winning author of On the Trapline comes a cinematic fantasy-adventure story inspired by Indigenous legends.

One summer day, Lauren and her little brother, James, go on a trip to the land with their Moshom (grandfather). After they've arrived, the children decide to fish for dinner while Moshom naps. They are in their canoe in the middle of the lake when the water around them begins to swirl and crash. They are thrown overboard and when Lauren surfaces she sees her brother being pulled away by the Memekwesewak — creatures who live in and around water and like to interfere with humans. Lauren must follow the Memekwesewak through a portal and along a watery path to find and bring back James. But when she finally comes upon her brother, she too feels the lure of the Memekwesewak’s song. Something even stronger must pull them back home.

About the authors

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the winner of the Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award, the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer and the TWUC Freedom to Read Award. His books include The Barren Grounds: The Misewa SagaWhen We Were Alone (winner of the Governor General’s Award, a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and a McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People); Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award, graphic novel category); and the YA novel Strangers (recipient of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction). He is the creator and host of the podcast Kiwew. Through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Robertson educates as well as entertains, reflecting Indigenous cultures, histories and communities while illuminating many contemporary issues. David A. Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.


David A. Robertson's profile page

Maya McKibbin is a Two-Spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme, and Irish filmmaker, illustrator, and storyteller. Using her education in computer graphics and interactive media, her work is rooted in the natural world and our relations to it.

Maya McKibbin's profile page


  • Short-listed, Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize
  • Short-listed, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award

Editorial Reviews

One of Evanston Public Library's 101 Great Books for Kids for 2023
One of the Chicago Public Library's Best Fiction for Young Readers for 2023
One of CBC's Best Canadian Books for Kids and Teen for 2023
One of Kids Committee List's Silver Birch Fiction Readers Books for 2024
PRAISE FOR The Song That Called Them Home:

"A gorgeous story inspired by Indigenous legends that will lead intrepid readers on a watery adventure." —STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews
"This gorgeous story, beautifully told, captures the magic of legend and family while introducing readers to a piece of folklore they may not have been exposed to previously." —CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"Tinged with mystery and peril, Robertson’s adventure underlines a family bond and anchoring traditions, while digitally crafted, kinetic art from McKibbon . . . visualizes the memekwesewak as ghostly underwater creatures surrounded by saturated natural landscapes." —Publishers Weekly
"[A] satisfying story about the strength of family bonds, persistence, and determination." —The Horn Book Magazine
"The text cogently conveys the Memekwesewak's initial threat without necessarily villainizing them, and there's a familiar comfort in the story's trajectory as two lost kids are called home by family love and tradition. The straightforward prose is unadorned, leaving the digital art to flesh out the otherworldly realm of the little people, and it does so with great success." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Dazzling. . . . [A] compelling and dynamic adventure featuring young humans and the mischievous Memekwesewak. . . . The potent partnership of author and artist skillfully honors and celebrates both family and folklore." —Shelf Awareness
"This book is a wonderful introduction to Indigenous storytelling, and I imagine kids will want to learn more after reading this story." —Young Adulting

"Every element in the book is quiet but resonant. There are no direct references to the power of family, but there is a reassuring tone. Even when the children are under threat, the beating drum of their grandfather’s song leads them to safety." —Imaginary Elevators

"Robertson’s text and McKibbin’s illustrations are in perfect harmony here. . . . The Song That Called Them Home brings Indigenous mythology into the contemporary world and speaks to the importance and power of family. The exciting story and the beautiful visuals will make this a wonderful addition to anyone’s collection." —CM: Canadian Review of Materials

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