We Love You as Much as the Fox Loves Its Tail (Inhabit Media, July) is a book guided by love and celebration. Written by Dene and Inuk writer Masiana Kelly and illustrated by Tamara Campeau, the bedtime poem honours the many ways a family welcomes their long-awaited new child.
Kelly drew inspiration for the picture book from her time as a kindergarten teacher when students learned about animals, one of which was the fox. “The first thing we think about with foxes is their big, beautiful tails,” she says from her home in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. “At school we would go around in a circle and the kids would all talk about the animals they know, what makes them unique, and how we could use those traits to show how much we love someone.”
Love is the defining theme in Kelly and Campeau’s heartwarming book that features a gorgeous Arctic fox (with a toddler hugging it) on the cover. Expressing love is personally important to Kelly, particularly with her sons. “With my own two boys – one’s five and one’s eight – they’ve grown up knowing we love them so much, and we often talk about how much we love each other in different ways,” she says.
Campeau’s illustrations fill the whole page so that the top, middle, and bottom often feature animals, people, plants, and celestial elements together, creating an enveloping effect. Campeau, who has been a freelance illustrator for six years, cherishes the space a poem affords to visuals.
“I personally love to illustrate the manuscripts for this age group,” Campeau says over email. “There is a limited amount of words on each spread, which leaves so much room for the illustrations. The possibilities are endless. My goal here was to really try to draw the child into the world and emotions that were being described.”
In addition to her experiences teaching, Kelly was also inspired by the stories her grandparents shared with her. The Dancing Trees (Inhabit Media, 2021), her second book, was based on a story that her grandmother told her, which “was that we have to share what we have and be respectful of the land and take care of it.” We Love You as Much as the Fox Loves Its Tail is intended for children ages three to five, but Kelly says that respect and appreciation can be shared with anyone of any age.
“I grew up in Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories surrounded by my culture, and my family was really close growing up. I’m really grateful for the stories that were passed down in the teachings,” Kelly says. “And I’m also grateful to have lived in Nunavut for the five years that I did, so I could connect with my father’s side of the family, and learn more about my Inuit heritage, about being Inuk, and to be surrounded by the language – and being inspired to share that love with everyone.”
Much of Campeau’s work showcases an affection for animals and stories. In 2020, she teamed up with Inuit author Suzie Napayok-Short for Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer, and authors Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley for Tanna’s Lemming, both published by Inhabit Media.
Lemmings, foxes, narwhals, whales, polar bears, and seals all share the Arctic as their home. Kelly strives to acknowledge the beauty of the Arctic, which is often under-recognized in children’s books.
“There’s not enough exposure for the amazing animals that live in the North,” Kelly says. “It’s my hope with this book that people understand the amazing animals and where they live – the beauty they’re surrounded by, and the people that live in the North, especially in the Arctic, who have the opportunity to see these animals up close and personal. It’s just amazing – the respect that they show to all of these animals.”