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We Are Water Protectors

by Carole Lindstrom

Publishers Weekly Metis/Ojibwe author Lindstrom (Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle) honors those who fight to protect the Earth’s fresh water. The words are spoken by a child who’s shown first with her grandmother: “Water is the first medicine.... Water is sacred,” the white-haired woman tells her. Bold strokes of light, limpid color wash across layered spreads by Tlingit and Haida artist Goade (Encounter). The girl tells of the arrival of an oil pipeline, the “black snake” that will “spoil the water./ Poison plants and animals./ Wreck everything in its path.” The half-bleached figures of a bird and a fish lie next to the pipeline leaking black sludge. “The plants, trees, rivers, lakes...”—Goade pulls back to view the Earth from space studded with stars—“We are all related.” Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary. And the girl doesn’t just participate in protest; she stands at the front, carrying a feather in one hand, as other protestors answer her call. “We are water protectors. WE STAND!” An author’s note traces the story’s genesis to the 2016 Standing Rock protests in the Dakotas. A passionate call for environmental stewardship. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—From swirling, detailed watercolor illustrations to lyrical text with the refrain, "We stand with our songs and our drums. We are still here," this title explores the Indigenous fight to protect water from pollution. A young Anishinaabe girl explains the prophecy of the black snake "that will destroy the land. Spoil the water. Poison plants and animals. Wreck everything in its path." The unnamed girl calls for action to protect all living things and "fight for those who cannot fight for themselves." The illustrations use rich colors and shading to show the intricate connection among all living creatures. A broken pipeline leaks into blue waters, turning fish and fowl into skeletons. Ghosts of ancestors surround children as an elder tells them the black snake prophecy. Black pipelines form the body of the snake on a red background, its mouth open and ready to strike. The author and illustrator notes focus on the need to protect water, and explain events at Standing Rock, where tribal members and their allies fought against an oil pipeline. A glossary of terms is provided, and the last page has an "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge" for readers to sign. VERDICT An accessible introduction to environmental issues combined with beautiful illustrations, this book will both educate and inspire youth. First purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book 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.

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

Kirkus 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.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list An Indigenous girl explains why water is sacred, before she speaks of the foretold black snake that will destroy the land, referring to the polluting oil pipelines that course through the earth. The girl then casts fear aside, crying, Take courage! as she marches forward, rallying her people to defend their village and their planet. Goade's watercolor illustrations fill the spreads with streaming ribbons of water, cosmic backdrops, and lush natural landscapes, sometimes intercut by the harsh red that comes with the black snake depicted literally, towering over people of many nations, who link hands in solidarity. Lindstrom's spare, poetic text flows with the river's rhythm, periodically stopping to beat out the refrain, We stand / With our songs / And our drums. / We are still here. Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others, these pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action. While the text draws on specific cultural beliefs, its argument is universal: We are stewards of the Earth. Back matter includes notes from both author and illustrator, and the final page offers a pledge that readers may choose to recite, sign, and date to affirm their commitment to the cause. A beautiful tribute and powerful manifesto.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2020 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.