Awâsis and the World Famous Bannock, a recently released children’s book with words by Dallas Hunt and illustrations by Amanda Strong, is a delightful story about a young Cree girl, the titular Awâsis, who seeks help from animal friends in the forest when she loses her kôkum’s (grandmother’s) “world-famous” bannock recipe.
The book uses a multifaceted approach in engaging its young readers. Each page features a mix of Cree and English words that will spark curiosity in non-Cree-speaking readers and draw Cree-speakers in. But the central focus of the book’s plot is not on the interaction between the two languages, but on the complex connection between nature and family and how it can provide a view into Cree culture accessible to both Cree and English speakers. According to Hunt, Cree children and speakers should “feel comfortable with this book and their language” and “hav[e] fun with Cree language revitalization” throughout.
Additionally, the universal message of the importance of working together and sharing, represented through each animal’s contribution to the bannock, is presented in a subtle and fun way without feeling heavy handed. Readers absorb a bannock recipe through the narrative, but they can also find it written out along with a glossary of the Cree words used in the book on the final pages, which are great starting points for further discussion and engagement. The narrative is beautifully complemented by Amanda Strong’s warm, earth toned, yet whimsical illustrations, which will be sure to delight any reader who opens this book.