Nicola I. Campbell’s Stand Like a Cedar is a delightful literary piece for 2- to 5-year-olds. Set in traditional Coast Salish territory, this story opens the door for children of all ethnicities to glimpse a traditional Indigenous lifestyle. Campbell uses her storytelling abilities to invite the audience to walk with Creator by respecting all of creation.
Expressions of ancient cultural traditions are illustrated in watercolor by Stό:lō artist, Carrielynn Victor. Illustrations feature Westcoast landscapes and a blend of European and west-coast Indigenous art styles. Images work hand in hand with Campbell’s storytelling ability to bring this story to life.
The author’s words form a poetic cadence as she takes the audience on a beautiful yearlong journey exploring traditional First Nations life through the eyes of a child. From taking a ride in a traditional long canoe, traveling with family to go berry picking, and hunting to watching a mother bear and her cubs prepare to hibernate for the winter. This is a narrative of unspoiled life on reserve lands that includes expressions of gratitude for “all living creatures, big and small.”
Songs and stories reflect cultural expressions of spirituality, including the belief that everything in creation has a story to tell, prayers to Creator, and a promise to stand tall like a cedar by protecting, honoring, and respecting all creation.
Campbell interprets commonly used words and phrases into traditional Stό:lō Halq’eméylem dialect. The back of the book has a glossary that comprises traditional vocabulary. The glossary includes an instructional component on how to form traditional vocal sounds and pronunciations of the Coast-Salish language. One thing that might make this literary piece better is an auditory component that could assist the audience to form what might be otherwise unfamiliar Stό:lō words. I recommend this book for children that are interested in First Nations language and culture. (Birchbark Books)