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Written for 4- to 8-year-olds, David A. Robertson’s On the Trapline is a heart-warming story of a Swampy-Cree boy and his Moshom (grandfather) going to visit their trapline in Northern Canada. The young boy makes comparisons between life in the city and what he discovers on the trapline.

The author introduces words spoken in the Swampy Cree dialect while describing the charming family life that Moshom grew up with. His grandfather describes a life that lacked financial wealth but was rich in family connections and Cree culture. The cooler climate drew Moshom’s boyhood family to sleep in one room to stay warm. They also swam together on a pebbled beach and did not know the sandy shorelines of life in the city. Moshom shows his grandson where he went to school and had to learn to speak English along with his childhood friends. Moshom then discloses his secret that allowed him to preserve his traditional language that he shares with his grandson.

Going to the trapline requires they travel first by plane, then by foot, and finally by boat. The trapline is evidenced by beaver dams, dark water, and petroglyphs. The boy helps his Moshom find a walking stick as his grandfather reminisces about life on the trapline when he was a boy. The boy tastes Saskatoon berries for the first time and goes fishing with his grandfather. He is taught the importance of sharing and honoring his Moshom, who is an Elder.

The story is illustrated with pastel and watercolor depictions by Julie Flett, who has family roots in the northern First Nations community, Norway House of Northern Manitoba. Flett brings to life the story of a boyhood journey to the family trapline with beautiful landscapes and silhouettes. Her illustrations cause the reader’s imagination to spring to life. A glossary of Swampy Cree words is included at the back of the book. (Tundra)

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