April 12, 2021

Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know

Written by Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Translated by Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere
Groundwood Books
978-1-77306-326-3
44 pp.
All ages
March 2021 

Written in Anishinaabemowin and English, this gorgeous picture book lets readers accompany a child and her grandmother as they take in the small and tremendous wonders of the natural world as it transforms in each season.

Beginning with Aaniish ezhi-gkendmaanh niibing? or How do I know summer is here?, the pair travel by canoe to pick blueberries. There is the Loon on the water and the green Luna Moth in the birch trees, bumblebees and fireweed in blossom, and hot sand. This summer outing ends with...
Mii maanda ezhi-gkenmaanh niibing.
This is how I know summer.
From Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know by Brittany Luby, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
In the fall, grandmother and child, with an enthusiastic dog, walk the shore and forest to witness the cattails swelling, and animals like the Red-Winged Blackbird, Black Bear and Mallard, before picking orange mushrooms.
From Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know by Brittany Luby, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Winter comes and, with the hot cereal, warm coats and boots for the child and her grandmother, come the animals outdoors responding too. The Deer strip the cedar trees, the Mouse finds shelter inside and the Woodpecker, Blue Jay, and Fox do their own winter thing.
From Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know by Brittany Luby, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Finally comes spring with the black ice softening, the green shoots peeking out of the snow, a Gull roosting, the dog having puppies and the spring Peeper singing, "Good night, little one."
 
Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know is such a sensory read of words and art. I may not be able to appreciate the Anishinaabemowin text (as translated by father and son Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere of M'Chigeeng First Nation) for its quality of sound and rhythms but Brittany Luby's words in English saturate the reader with the experience of being outdoors and savouring the textures and colours of the natural world in its transformations through the seasons. Whether she speaks of the plants or the animals, the weather or the sky, Brittany Luby, who is of Anishinaabe descent, draws us into the wholeness of the season, sharing its quietness and roar, subtlety or outburst, as nature chooses, as seen from a special intergenerational relationship.
When insects billow black from the trees,
and the sun slips into an orange dream.
The power of her words are matched wholeheartedly by the dynamic intensity of Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley's artwork. A member of Wasauksing First Nation, Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley depicts the world of land and sky, animals and plants in a woodland style, digitally rendered with vibrant colours and shapes outlined with dark lines. The illustrations have a two-dimensional feel but are lush in form and hue that are both calming and energized, lending a naturalness to the story.
From Mii maanda exhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know by Brittany Luby, illus. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
For those who understand Anishinaabemowin, there will be another layer of story to Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know to which I am not privy. Still, with only the English text and artwork accessible to me, Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This is How I Know is a triumph of art, literal and graphic, that invites readers to use all their senses to appreciate the splendour of nature through the seasons.

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