A Day with Yayah
Nicola I. Campbell; illustrated by Julie Flett
published 2018 • 9.5" x 10.5" • 32 pages • full-color illustrations throughout
ISBN 9781566560412 • hardback • $17.95 •
“Like many Indigenous languages, Nle'kepmxcin is considered critically endangered. As such, First Nations author Nicola Campbell pulls double duty with this book, which functions as both story and bilingual dictionary. A group of children join their Yayah (an anglicization of the word yéye, or grandmother) to forage for mushrooms in British Columbia's Nicola Valley. Along the way, Yayah teaches them how to translate key vocabulary words into their native language. Depending on how you look at it, the dialogue in the story is either inorganic or hyperrealistic, as a lot of time is spent deconstructing the pronunciation of each new word (an act that will be all too familiar to anyone who has ever tried to learn a second language). By using a story about family and nature as a conduit to share Nle'kepmxcin, Campbell nimbly proves how the way we speak is intertwined with the rest of one's life, and why it is essential to preserve Indigenous languages with a new generation.”
—The Globe and Mail
“This radiant picture book, from Nicola I. Campbell and Julie Flett, is a story of Indigenous language reclamation. There’s also an emphasis on how the characters connect to the healing power of the earth, the wisdom of their elders, and pride in their heritage to guide them … Campbell captures the matter-of-fact cadence that wise Indigenous elders emanate with charm and subtle authenticity as Yayah calls the plants by their Nłeʔkepmxcín names, passing on a nearly lost language to a new generation … Flett adds to the rich themes of resilience and resurgence with her enchanting, folk-like paintings. Together, Campbell and Flett transport readers on a bilingual learning journey with the intergenerational characters as they savor the pronunciation of each syllable of Nłeʔkepmxcín words slowly, together. The book offers a phonetic breakdown and each Nłeʔkepmxcín word is elegantly illustrated by Flett … The distinct and unbreakable resiliency of Indigenous people is affirmed in this loving portrait of generational courage and fortitude.”
—Quill & Quire
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Set in the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, in Canada's westernmost province, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. A grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life and the natural world to her young grandchildren.
Nicola I. Campbell is a renowned Canadian children’s book author. Her books have won many awards, including the TD Book Prize, the Marilyn Baillie Award and the Anskohk Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year. Of Nicola Valley, BC First Nations heritage, she currently lives in British Columbia with her son.
Julie Flett is an award-winning Canadian illustrator of children’s books. Her illustrations have also won many prestigious prizes, including the British Columbia Book Prize and the Aboriginal Literature Award. Of Cree-Métis heritage, she lives in Vancouver, BC.
Crocodile Books, USA
“A sparkling spring day with a rainbow-arced sky finds Nikki, Jamesie, and Lenny harvesting wild potatoes, rhubarb, celery, and lightning mushrooms with their grandmother Yayah. Though it sounds like a frolicsome field trip, their day is much more than that. Every day, Yayah teaches the children two new words in Nlaka’pamux, the language of the indigenous people of the Nicola Valley in British Columbia. Nlaka’pamux, Campbell explains, is an endangered language, making the story all the more significant. Yayah teaches the new words in context and emphasizes the importance of pronunciation. Then readers, like the children, must make sure to articulate subsequent word uses correctly. Although a little pedantic, this cheerful story of a spring-day outing ultimately balances instruction and entertainment. Flett’s lovely collages add beauty and a fresh, contemporary tone, while the text captures the essence of the young learning from the old. Timeless values, such as gratitude for the earth, are seamlessly integrated. Consider pairing with the similarly themed All around Us (2017), by Xelena González.”
“A current-day Interior Salish girl named Nikki and her two friends spend a day with Yayah, Nikki’s grandmother, learning about edible plants. Nikki and Yayah are tanning a deer hide when they notice a rainbow blooming across the sky. When neighbors Jamesie Pookins and Lenny join them, Yayah asks if the children know which edible plants are ready to be gathered in the spring. They have many answers: wild rhubarb, wild celery, lightning mushrooms, and more. Even though they admit they don’t like how mushrooms taste, they want to help Yayah gather. Soon, everyone climbs into Auntie Karen’s minivan, and they leave to hunt for plants. As they do, Yayah teaches them which plants are safe to eat and which are not, all the while also teaching them the Nle?kepmxcín words for each plant, too. The dialogue naturally folds helpful pronunciation cues for several of the words into the text, and all words are printed with phonetic pronunciations in the closing glossary. Campbell’s (Interior Salish/Métis) quiet story weaves botanical facts with respect for the natural world, naming the plants in the Nle?kepmxcín language. Flett’s (Cree/Métis) colorful, calming illustrations blend very well with the tone of the text, often gracefully incorporating the pulled-out Nle?kepmxcín in display type. The flowers pop against the dark green grass, the relative smallness of the human figures in the landscape emphasizing their relationship with nature. With modern children learning an elder’s wisdom, this makes for a lovely day out. (Picture book. 4-8)”
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