Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beautiful Book #46

Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: L'Alfabet Di Michif/Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet by Julie Flett. Simply Read Books, 2010.

I know, I know. YET ANOTHER alphabet book, but when you see this one, you'll know why the list needed to make room for just one more. Métis artist, Julie Flett creates spare and stunning illustrations that balance light, space and colour beautifully. Her alphabet is a tribute to the highly endangered Michif language of the Métis, a language influenced by Cree, French and the Saulteaux dialect of Ojibway. As Flett explains, "Languages are precious: they capture the very essence of a culture. The exceptional night-sight of owls is akin to the insight that language offers in understanding a culture."

Flett's book begins with these two sentences as part of a brief introduction to the history and nature of Michif. The book ends with a helpful pronunciation guide, but it is the art and the words chosen in between that make this small book expansive and uncommonly beautiful. I've included a couple of images below but please go to Flett's website to see more images from this book and to browse her other titles. Her recent Wild Berries/Pakwa che Menisu was chosen as the First Nation Communities READ book for 2014-2015, and she was the inaugural winner of that organization's Aboriginal Literature Award. And for those of you looking to buy a book for a baby this Christmas, might I recommend Richard Van Camp's Little You which is illustrated by Flett.

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