The Power of Style by Christian Allaire

Cover image for The Power of Style.

The Power of Style by Christian Allaire (9781773214900)

This nonfiction book explores the importance of fashion as a way to pay homage to heritage, culture and identity. The book looks at the work of designers who are incorporating their own Indigenous heritage into their work, such as ribbon work. The book moves on to hair styles and the importance of embracing natural hair, keeping long hair as a connection to culture, and the art of braiding. Cosplay comes next focusing on size acceptance within the cosplay community and the people who are forcing more inclusivity. Modest fashion and hijabs and head scarves are explored next with a focus on style and individuality. Then the book moves on to talk about high heels for men and the importance of standing tall for LGBTQIA+ rights. The final section is about makeup, both as a way to express yourself and as a way to see yourself included as modern makeup embraces more skin tones.

Each turn of the page in this book shows people of color, different cultures and religions, various gender and sexual identities, a wide range of sizes, and it embraces all of them as valid and beautiful. Written by an Ojibwe author who is the Fashion and Style Writer for Vogue, this book represents so many movements in the fashion world to be seen and accepted. Allaire’s writing is friendly and fresh, inviting readers to explore the pages, showing what allyship looks like, and giving real space to these new ideas and designs.

The book is full of photographs, making it a visual delight to read. Allaire has clearly carefully selected the photographs to show the fashion and also the figures who make the fashion come alive. They are bright, beautiful and truly speak to the diversity he is highlighting.

A gorgeous and enticing book about fashion that will broaden definitions and embraces inclusion. Appropriate for ages 12-16.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Annick Press.

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal (9781536208450)

Zonia lives in the rain forest. Every morning, the rain forest calls to her and she heads inside. She follows a blue butterfly, visiting her friends the sloths. She chats with the birds in the trees. She sees her best friend, a coati, and her fastest friend, the jaguar. She stops by the water and greets all of the new babies. She has a baby brother of her own. She plays in the rain forest, hanging upside down like the snakes and enjoying a game of hide and seek. She has places to be quiet and places to run. But when she discovers something she has never seen before, she rushes home to tell her mother of the devastation she saw. Now it is time for her, and all of us, to do something to help the rain forest.

Zonia is Asháninka, the largest Indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon. The face paint that she wears on the final page speaks to her determination and strength. Like many Asháninka, Zonia must face the destruction of the rain forest that she and her entire people rely on to survive. By introducing us to the various animals in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest, Martinez-Neal shows all that we as a world have to lose by not protecting them and their habitat. The book ends with information on the animals shown in the story, information on the Asháninka people, and more facts about the Amazon itself.

The art in this picture book is exquisite. Caldecott Honor winner Martinez-Neal uses hand-made paper from the women paper artisans of Chazuta, Peru to paint the illustrations. These papers form the background of all of the images, providing an organic, speckled and natural feel to the scenes. The bright colors of the Amazon rain forest pop against this subtly textured warmth.

An important picture book about saving the Amazon rain forest, it is also beautifully written and illustrated. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.

Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimee Craft

Cover image.

Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimee Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson (9781773214962)

A girl sits on the bank of the kitchi sipi with her Mishomis. He has taught her how to sit still in nature and listen. He had lived on that land all of his life and though she lived in the city, it was here that she felt most at home. Every spring, he would head into the woods for weeks and call her when he returned. Then she would come and visit, spending time at the river with him, experiencing the world around them by watching and listening. As the sun broke up the ice on the river, he reminded her that they all have responsibilities to the land and water, and stories. Then he shared the story of the first treaty between the moon, the sun and the earth to create life. Treaties form the basis of all relationships, from relationships with wildlife to a treaty with the English crown where the land seemed to be owned. As nature continued to move around them and the seasons shifted, she could see what those treaties had created for them as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow.

First, I must mention the small size of this book. It’s more like a field guide size, which is just right for reading at a river bank, around a fire, or curled together as a shared story. The book speaks directly to treaties, from the original treaty between sky and earth to the damaging treaties with the Crown. The importance of treaties to the Anishinaabe people, allowing them to understand their place in Creation, is emphasized here including the respect that is meant to be shown through a treaty. Anishinaabemowin words are used throughout the text, easily understood through the context in the sentences.

The art by an Anishinaabe illustrator embraces the landscape of the river and the hills. He shows them in changing light and season, creating beautiful yet simple vistas that cradle the text.

This small book speaks loudly about the understanding of Indigenous treaties and their deep history and meaning. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Annick Press.

#NotYourPrincess edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

NotYouPrincess

#NotYourPrincess edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (9781554519576)

This is one powerful book about the experience and strength of Native women. The book is a collection of art, stories, poems and interviews of and by Indigenous women. The pieces in the book explore the intersectionality of being both Indigenous and female, demonstrating with a searing cry the damage done by abuse and stereotypes. There is power in the book, strong voices that insist on being heard and no longer being invisible in our modern world.

This book fights back against the harmful boxes that our society puts Native women in, labeling them with stereotypes of drunkenness or princess. This book shows instead the wide range of Native voices with art and words that shout on the page. Both the art and textual pieces are impressive separately, but put together into a whole, the book becomes more than its pieces. The result is a brilliant collection, building piece by piece. It is not an easy read, but one that is honest and raw.

Beautiful, angry and insistent, this collection of the voices of Native women belongs on the shelves of every library serving teens. Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from library copy.