December 17, 2018

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Written by Dallas Hunt
Illustrated by Amanda Strong
HighWater Press
28 pp.
Ages 4-8
October 2018

There may be a grandmother, a basket of good food, and a walk through the woods, but this is no Little Red Riding Hood. It's Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock and this little girl is delivering the bannock from her Kôhkum when the animals of the forest come to her rescue.
From Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illus. by Amanda Strong
On her way to deliver her Kôhkum's world-famous bannock, Awâsis's walk takes a turn when the playful girl drops the bannock. It falls into the water to be picked up by a bear. In tears, Awâsis is approached by Sîsîp (duck) who reassures the crying girl by offering tohtosapopimehkan (margarine) which is needed to make bannock. Similar encounters with Wâpos (rabbit), Ayîkis (frog) and Ônô (owl) yield her gifts of askipahkwesikan (flour), sîwinikan (sugar) and sîwihtâkan (salt), as the bear watches covertly.
From Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illus. by Amanda Strong
When Ônô suggests that she might have all the ingredients for the bannock, she runs home and explains to her Kôhkum what has happened. All that is missing is the tohtôsâpoy (milk) which is then hand-delivered by Maskwa (bear).
From Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illus. by Amanda Strong
Complete with an easy-to-follow recipe for "Kôhkum's World-Famous Bannock" and a glossary of Cree words with a pronunciation guide, Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock becomes less story book and more revitalization of language and fairy tale. Although it may caution children to be a little less exuberant in their play when undertaking a task–though exuberant play for play's sake is always recommended!– it also shows that there are solutions for anxiety-causing dilemmas and sometimes they come from unlikely sources. Winnipegger Dallas Hunt, member of Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation), keeps the tone light, perfect for a joyful child who chats with talking animals on her outing.  Still, though Awâsis's anxiety for her plight is apparent, through both her actions and her words, the reassurances of the animals are filled with compassion and encouragement.

Artist Amanda Strong, probably better known for her Indigenous filmography, brings an organic feel to Dallas Hunt's story. Outlining many of her illustrations' components in white borders, which I had never seen before in a children's book, gives Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock the innocence of a colouring book while overriding that simplicity with textures similar to cut paper collages. As such, the depth of the story is augmented by Amanda Strong's intriguing illustrations.

Take a walk with Awâsis as she plays and chats with her animal friends, learning their names and greetings in Cree, knowing that Dallas Hunt and Amanda Strong will tell a clear story with ease while ensuring depth and naturalness of message in their words and art.


A video uploaded by publisher Portage & Main provides a useful pronunciation guide to the Cree words highlighted in Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock Pronunciation Guide
Uploaded to YouTube by Portage & Main Press
on November 20, 2018.


  1. I was enchanted by this picture book and then I found out that the author was from Swan Lake. I was born and raised in a tiny community minutes from the Lake. Wishing Dallas Hunt much success with her delightful story.

    1. How wonderful! I’m sure he’d appreciate the sentiment.