For the last Friday of National Poetry Month and Earth Month, I couldn’t think of a better book to choose as a Perfect Picture Book.
Title: We Are Water Protectors
Written By: Carole Lindstrom
Illustrated By: Michaela Goade
Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press/2020
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: water, #OwnVoices, Indigenous Peoples, ecology, social activism
Water is the first medicine, Nokomis told me.
Brief Synopsis: When a black snake arrives and threatens the water sources, a young girl finds courage to rally her people to fight it.
Links to Resources:
- Are you a water protector? How can you preserve and protect water in your community? Even simple actions like using less water to bathe or while you’re brushing your teeth, or cleaning up litter near a pond or river bank, helps;
- Discover more activities in the Activity Kit.
Why I Like this Book:
As the many accolades attest, including winning the 2021 ALA Caldecott Medal, We Are Water Protectors is an exceptional picture book. Lyrical text that draws the reader in, a compelling problem that causes the reader to cheer on the brave main character, seamlessly blending the traditions and beliefs of Native Americans with the contemporary problem of saving the planet, this book would be a must read, even without Goade’s stunning illustrations. Starting with the words of a wise grandmother and scenes of a baby in utero, the text and the illustrations later in the narrative pan out to feature the entire earth, surrounded by animals, and the recognition that we “are all related.” And “we,” not just the narrator and not just her people, can stand together and be water protectors.
Back matter includes further information about water protectors, a glossary, and an Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge.
A Note about Craft:
After reading We Are Water Protectors, I felt encouraged and empowered to join the fight to defeat the black snake, and I think others will be determined to join the fight, too. How did Lindstrom call me and them to action? Using the immediacy of first-person point-of-view personalizes the problem and helps the reader experience the world, and the water problem, from her perspective. Using the first-person plural “we” in the title and throughout the narrative, Lindstrom goes one step further and shows the reader how the problem affects all of us, and how we are all vital to the solution.
That Lindstrom’s lyrical text is paired with Goade’s illustrations that also draw on Native American imagery and culture renders this collaboration more than the sum of its parts.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!