Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 6 to 9
- Grade: 1 to 3
- Reading age: 6 to 9
The story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine-ba Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine-ba invites us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.
About the author
Joanne Robertson is AnishinaabeKwe and a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. She received her Fine Arts degree from Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. She founded the Empty Glass for Water campaign to bring attention to the drinking water crisis in Indigenous communities. She works as a research assistant at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and continues to support the water walks. Joanne lives near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
- Commended, Recommended by White Plains Library for Native American Heritage Month (US)
- Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Awards
- Commended, 2018 (Spring) - Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens
- Commended, Ontario Library Association's 2018 Best Bets
- Winner, First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award - Children’s Category
- Commended, AICL's Best Books of 2017 - American Indians in Children's Literature
An important topic is treated with grace, love, and a smidgen of humor in this delightful, necessary book.
The Water Walker is a wonderful book about conservation, environmentalism, and preservation, written in a way that even the youngest audience can understand why Nibi is important and why we should protect Nibi.... The book has the potential to be a highly interactive book around which science lesson plans could be formed. Students can discuss how they are protecting Nibi, they can write letters to Nokomis, and there can be discussion around the ways they can create change in the world, just as Nokomis did.
"The simple text and colourful pictures are the perfect medium to convey the urgency of the Water Walkers' initiative. Teachers and students can use [the] story to park and ignite their own activism around water protection."
... a worthwhile addition to classroom and public libraries and a resource for discussions about First Nations and ecology.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
It is the epitome of #OwnVoices.... Robertson turned Mandamin's work into an engaging story that invites children to learn about her activism.... The Water Walker is an extraordinary book.
American Indians in Children's Literature
With a message that is both timely and timeless, The Water Walker... will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.
Midwest Book Review
[The author’s] artwork in this picture book is colorful and accessible for readers, and she gives readers a solid inspirational story on a critical topic while even adding in a bit of humor…This book would be a good addition to a school or public library, and it would also be a good addition to text sets or lessons about conservation efforts or natural resources or Native Americans.
... like so many titles about Indigenous topics finally earning shelf space in Canadian libraries and bookshops, “The Water Walker” has just as much to teach parents as the children... Joanne Robertson succeeds in answering with her words and her art the same question that Nokomis Josephine answered with her footsteps: “What are you going to do about it?”
Joanne Roberston reconstructs Josephine's remarkable story with simple prose and colourful illustrations that will appeal to young readers.
Canadian Children's Book News
Josephine Mandamin has inspired countless adults to care passionately about protecting the waters of the earth. Now through Joanne Robertson's magical book, Josephine will inspire children to know they can change the world.
Maude Barlow, The Council of Canadians and Water Activist