International Women’s Day, Mar. 8 and World Water Day, Mar. 22, 2018
The Water Walker
Joanne Robertson, Author and Illustrator
Second Story Press, Fiction, Sep. 15, 2017
Suitable for Ages: 6-9
Themes: Water Conservation, Environmental Protection, Great Lakes Region, Indigenous Grandmothers, Ojibwa Indians
Opening: Nokomis loved Nibi, and Nibi Loved Nokomis.
Synopsis: The true story of a determined Ojibwe grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Her passion began as a girl when she would hop out of bed in the morning and sing “Gichi miigwech, Nibi, for the life you give to every living thing on Earth. I love you. I respect. you.” She was warned by the wise chief that “the day will come when an ounce of water costs more than an ounce of gold. What are you going to do about it?” Eventually she founded the Mother Earth Walkers.
Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. Nokomis, along with other women, men, and young people, has walked around all of the Great Lakes from the four salt waters — or oceans — all the way to Lake Superior. During one walk alone, Josephine put almost 4,500,000 footsteps on her sneakers!
Why I like this book:
Joanne Robertson’s book is an important tribute to activist Josephine Mandamin and the many Native women and men who have courageously walked around all of the Great Lakes to bring attention to the condition of our water. Her message is not political, but a simple plea to engage people to protect the water, our most important resource.
Robertson has written an exceptional environmental and conservation story that even young children will understand. The language is lyrical and simply presented. Her detailed and illustrations show Josephine’s spunk and determination. The book is interactive and perfect for classroom discussions. Josephine is a strong woman who demonstrates what true activism really means. Youth will be inspired to know that Josephine is passionate about for protecting water for their generation and many more to come. She is a great role model for International Women’s Day. Many readers will want to join in her cause to protect the planet.
Josephine completed her final walk for water last summer. On April 20, 2017, Josephine, joined and supported by the Mother Earth Water Walkers, started out from Duluth, Minnesota then walked east for 97 days along the Great Lakes, arriving in Matane, Québec on July 27. She traveled over 3,197 miles and put over 6,394,000 footsteps on her sneakers.
Resources: This is an engaging book for World Water Day, Mar. 22, 2018. The book includes a glossary and pronunciation guide for Ojibwe words used in the text. It ends with a note from the author inviting young readers to write a letter to Josephine to tell her all about what they are doing to help protect the environment. Her address is included. This would make an excellent classroom project.
Joanne Robertson is AnishinaabeKwe and a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. She received her Fine Arts degree from Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. She founded the Empty Glass for Water campaign to bring attention to the drinking water crisis in Indigenous communities. She works as a research assistant at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and continues to support the water walks. She lives near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.