The selection for this year’s First Nation Communities Read campaign is Wild Berries/Pakwa che Menisu, a picture book by Vancouver-based author and illustrator Julie Flett. Flett is also the recipient of the inaugural Aboriginal Literature Award, an annual $5,000 prize sponsored by the Periodical Marketers of Canada.
Wild Berries is published in two editions: a bilingual edition written in English and a Cree dialect from the Cumberland House area, and another version, Pakwa che Menisu, written in a Cree dialect from the Norway House area. According to publisher Simply Read Books, the latter includes a “syllabics pronunciation guide” for readers.
The book was selected from a five-title shortlist by a jury of librarians from First Nation public libraries in Ontario and will be celebrated with events across Canada in the coming year.
In a press release, the jury says, “The surface story of a day of sunshine, birdsong, and berry picking in a woodland clearing makes for a deceptively simple-seeming picture book. However, Wild Berries and Pakwa che Menisu have important underlying themes: the importance of intergenerational relationships and teaching, respect for Mother Earth and all her creatures and creations, and the acknowledgment, preservation, and use of Aboriginal languages and dialects.”