Métis author Arnolda Dufour Bowes’s lighthearted collection of stories, Maggie Lou, Firefox, documents the misadventures of a creative, outspoken 12-year-old.
Maggie Lou is always willing to get into trouble – and to drag her younger siblings along with her. Her nickname, Firefox, is inspired by the mischief she gets up to whenever she’s left unsupervised. Practising “boxing” with her siblings puts holes in the walls, and trying to build a bike ramp ends up with Maggie Lou needing stitches.
Her family, despite the chaos, is close-knit. Maggie Lou may bicker with her brother and sister, but it’s clear that the arguing is born out of love. Rather than punishing her, the elders in the family seek to find productive outlets for Maggie Lou’s enthusiasm. After she puts a hole in the wall, Maggie Lou’s grandfather takes her to the Friendship Centre, where he gives boxing lessons. Maggie Lou, stuck cleaning and getting teased by sexist boys, initially thinks boxing is dull – drills are boring and she hasn’t gotten to punch anyone yet – but once she finally steps into the ring, Maggie Lou proves she can hold her own against everyone who doubted her.
Healing from the ramp incident, Maggie Lou designs a three-storey, all-in-one luxury doghouse and convinces her dad to let her help at his construction site. It’s a family business, but Maggie Lou’s cousin, Jayda, is the only other woman on the job. Jayda encourages Maggie Lou to keep stepping out of the box and pushing the boundaries of what is expected of her – a theme that continues in the final story of the book: Maggie Lou learns to shoot her mother’s rifle while surrounded by the women in her family, in preparation for going on her first hunt.
Maggie Lou, Firefox is a funny, lovingly crafted book, with a rich cast of characters that is enhanced by artist Karlene Harvey’s comic-like illustrations. The book includes a glossary of Indigenous slang and Northern Michif words used by the characters who are Métis. Ultimately, this is a story about family and the value of putting your whole self into what you do. The humour in Maggie Lou, Firefox will pull young readers in, and the warm heart of the stories will keep them reading.