by Danielle Daniel
Danielle Daniel may have written and illustrated Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox to “encourage her young son to connect with his Aboriginal roots” (author bio on book jacket) but the book’s wisdom reaches far beyond the Anishinaabe tradition of totems, inspiring all children to look within and find their own strengths of wisdom, vulnerability, determination, curiosity and more.
In four-line free verses, Danielle Daniel depicts twelve totem animals by identifying the animal, its characteristics, and its purposeful deeds. From the bravery of the bear to the cleverness of the fox, the author-illustrator represents a child as each totem, with respect and admiration, directing them to help “identify with the positive character traits of animals that may be familiar to them” (Author’s Note; pg. 33) while still emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living things.
As a mixed-media artist (and another upcoming children’s book illustrator I will need to add to my growing lists of youngCanLit illustrators’ Who’s Who!) Danielle Daniel delivers wonderfully textured art of boys and girls in the masks +/- costumes of animal totems (as possible) standing before unique wallpapers of stripes, flowers and patterns. Her palette is subtle in peaches, turquoises, mustard and taupes but powerful enough to stand out. While moving with timidity, or joy, or seriousness, bravado or hesitancy, the children model a range of animal totems that reveal more about themselves, though apparently hiding their facial expressions.
Sometimes I feel like an owl,Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox is lovely and captivating and can so easily reach beyond the gorgeous artwork and natural similes to draw readers into discussions of family and clans, of spirit guides and of introspection and self-awareness. An amazing feat for “just” a little picture book.
Intuitive and discreet.
I fly across the dark night sky,
Always watching and listening. (pg. 16)