The Grizzly Mother

Written by: Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)

Illustrated by: Natasha Donovan

For ages: 7-8 years and up

Language: English & Gitxsan

Topics Covered: First Nations, Natural World, Indigenous Folklore, Grizzly Bears, Life Cycle, Global Community.

Summary: This book is part of the “Mothers of Xsan” series by Highwater Press.  These books cover animal lifecycles (particularly motherhood) through an Indigenous lens.  The books are incredibly beautiful and expertly weave in bilingual vocabulary and folklore.  The mama grizzly and cubs are seen interacting with the natural world and the Gitxsan people as both go about their daily lives.

The book tracks a year in the life of the mother grizzly and cubs, providing educational information mixed with cultural meaning and Gitxsan terms for full moons and animals.    The illustrations are breathtaking and bring a dimension of life to the bears.  It is a neat combination between early chapter book and graphic novel, with swirling illustrations and text boxes to help with advanced vocabulary definitions.  In the back there is also a map of the unceded lands of the Gitxsan Nation where the story takes place, and some information about these Indigenous peoples and their full moon calendar.

We truly love this book!  It has been on our list to read since seeing it published, and Highwater Press was kind enough to send it for the Best Of 2019 endeavor we have been undertaking on Instagram!  In our opinion, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen all year, particularly for older elementary students.  It is an Indigenous publisher, and there are so many more books from them that we want to read!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

BrettHETXW’MS GYETXW also known as Brett D. Huson (he/him/his), is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Growing up in this strong matrilineal society, Brett developed a passion for the culture, land, and politics of his people, and a desire to share their knowledge and stories.  Brett has worked in the film and television industry, and has volunteered for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and Indigenous Music Manitoba. The Sockeye Mother (winner of The Science Writers and Communicators Book Award) is Brett’s first book for children.
www.bretthuson.ca is his personal website.  Go check it out!

natasha_2018NATASHA DONOVAN (she/her/hers) is a freelance artist and illustrator from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her sequential work has been published in The Other Side and This Place: 150 Years Retold anthologies. She is the illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel Surviving the City, as well as the award-winning children’s book, The Sockeye Mother (shortlisted for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction), the first book in the Mothers of Xsan series. Natasha is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

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