British Columbia author, Nicola Campbell, is acclaimed for her earlier picture books – “Shin-chi’s Canoe” and “Shi-Shi-etko” which introduce the concept of residential schools to young children. She continues to promote her Indigenous heritage and values in her newest picture book,
“A Day with Yayah” focuses on a day in the life of her people, the Interior Salisham, who live in the British Columbia southern interior, in particular the Nicola Valley where Campbell grew up. Over the years, the language of her people has become endangered, and through this story Campbell introduces twelve words from her particular branch of the Salish language. As Yayah (grandmother) and her grandchildren gather plants for food and medicine, Yayah teaches the children the words for each plant and other words they need for conversation. Within the dialogue, Campbell includes the pronunciation and meaning for each Nle?kepmxcin word. These words are seen again in a stand-alone fashion at the bottom of the page on which they first appeared. They are explained fully in a glossary at the end of the story. The new words reappear several times in context, giving children multiple opportunities to identify and connect, although the correct pronunciation may still be difficult for those not familiar with the language.
Award winning artist, Julie Flett, provides brightly coloured full-page illustrations. Flett’s landscapes complement the text, and her folk-style characters, with joyful expressions and colourful clothing, emphasize family traditions, cultural activities, the strength of an intergenerational community and the importance of passing on knowledge to the next generation.
An optimistic, worthwhile addition to your FNMI collection for young children.