cover image Circle of Love

Circle of Love

Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Nicole Neidhardt. Heartdrum, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-307870-3

At the intertribal community center—where, repeating phrases note, “love is love”—an Indigenous child gathers with community and family for a feast in this warmly inclusive picture book. As the event progresses, emotionally aware lines detail how Molly feels. “When Kôhkom and her wife, Kôhkom Raven, sing a welcome song, I feel connected”; reading books to babies results in a feeling of kindness; and watching Molly’s uncles play with their baby reveals an experience of love. Further activities include artistic activities, time spent outside, and Native traditions (“When I smell the sweetgrass burning, I feel peace. When I watch my parents prepare for ceremony, I feel respect”). Via Molly’s iterative first-person lines, two-spirit Cree/Lakota author Smith creates a loving environment with plentiful queer representation. In digital illustrations, two-spirit illustrator Neidhardt, who is Diné, uses bold, bright colors to convey the celebration as well as the love that surrounds the intersectionally inclusive community. An author’s note concludes alongside more about community centers, Indigenous cultural practices, two-spirit identity, and more. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)