Reviews for We Are Water Protectors

by Carole Lindstrom

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The book opens with a young Indigenous girl collecting water with her grandmother, who tells her that "water is the first medicine." Vibrant blues, greens, and purples depict the river as it flows in the background of the beautifully composed spread. The river then flows onto the next spread, encircling a mother and her unborn child. The water "nourished us inside our mother's body. As it nourishes us here on Mother Earth." With every page-turn, the river continues to flow; it becomes the young girl's hair as she leads members of her community to where the "black snake" threatens to take over their land and water. The refrain "We stand / With our songs / And our drums / We are still here," which punctuates and strengthens the main text, is printed in italics and can easily be read as the voice of the community come together. The book closes with members of multiple Native communities united at Standing Rock to stop the "black snake." Back matter includes more information about water protection and Standing Rock; a glossary of Ojibwe, Tlingit, and Lakota words; an illustrator's note; and an "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice. "Water is the first medicine," a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. "We come from water." Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators' respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child's narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a "black snake" will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. "Now the black snake is here," the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren't likely to be frightened due to Goade's vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting "those who cannot fight for themselves" and understanding that on Earth, "we are all related." Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom's powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: "We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors." An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author's note, glossary, illustrator's note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.