“Tup tup,” go the berries as little Clarence drops them into his otaskikowawa, or bucket in Julie Flett’s book, Wild Berries. Living in Maine, I have Robert McKloskey’s Blueberries for Sal ingrained in my summer experience and “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk” is the sound I often think of. But, Flett’s story of a young Cree boy following his grandmother blueberry picking in the Pacific Northwest introduces all kinds of new sounds and images. Earl Cook’s translations of Cree words resonate on every page and teach new sounds and appreciations for the words we use to describe a classic experience like blueberry picking with a mother or grandmother. The simple collage-style illustrations remind me of Japanese wood block prints. And, the elegant sparse text is like a haiku, putting the focus on these unique words. I really enjoyed this story from another part of the country and from another culture and look forward to reading more of her books.
Suggested Ages – This book is great for pre-K children who will like the bold illustrations as well as the sparse text. They will particularly like the sounds of the Cree language. The information at the end about the language and translations of the words is very helpful and interesting to older students and parents.