cover image Nibi’s Water Song

Nibi’s Water Song

Sunshine Tenasco, illus. by Chief Lady Bird. Lee & Low, $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-64-379482-2

“So thirsty her mouth was clucking,” an Indigenous child called Nibi (which means “water” in Anishinaabemowin) seeks to make drinkable water more abundant for her community via a story that is also a call to action. In a contextualizing author’s note, Tenasco (who is Anishinaabe) writes that 40% of her Ontario reservation doesn’t have access to “this basic human right.” After getting undrinkable water from her home tap, her neighbor’s home, and a river, Nibi visits a nearby town with “big, shiny houses” where the people largely ignore her request. But she continues singing “I am thirsty, thirsty Nibi and I need water,” taking up a series of signs (“Water Is Life”) and dancing until a group of people with various skin tones join her in trying to find a solution. “Together they danced their way to the shiniest building, and showed all the rule-makers how to heal the water.” Nibi’s arc educates readers about the lack of potable water in many Indigenous communities while encouraging children to speak out about conservation issues. In saturated digital illustrations by Bird (who is Chippewa/Potawatomi), cool-toned backgrounds are laced with Native designs of woodland-style fish and florals that communicate the interconnectedness of all living beings alongside a story about an urgent issue. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)