Every so often, a picture book comes along that is so beautiful in its simplicity, it breathes a pocket of stillness into our busy lives and inspires thoughtful reflection long after the final page is read. Danielle Daniel’s Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox is just such a book. What began as a series of paintings created by Daniel, a Métis mixed-media artist, to encourage her son to connect with his aboriginal roots blossomed into a wonderful book the rest of us can learn from, enjoy, and share.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox introduces readers to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals. Daniel presents a series of images portraying children dressed in the costume of the animals they identify with, along with a few lines of text outlining the creatures’ attributes. Readers of all ages will enjoy deliberating over which animal’s traits most closely resemble their own, and the implications those identifications carry. (A list of the animals and the dominant characteristics associated with them, along with a short author’s note at the end of the book, are helpful for those wanting more information on the subject).
Daniel’s acrylic paintings are lush, rich, and captivating. Muted colours blend together softly, with splashes of vibrant red and inky blues or black providing added interest. The accompanying text is minimalist yet elegant; the overall effect is poetic. Daniel’s carefully chosen words also result in a few excellent opportunities for developing vocabulary: butterflies don’t just fly, they flutter; deer don’t simply run through the forest, they prance. The unhurried pace allows for ample time to discuss such words, which may be unfamiliar to younger children.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox reminds readers of the importance of critical self-reflection and of our connection to the animal world – two ideas worth championing at any age.