CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018
Go Show the World is an exciting new addition to children's literature and the first picture book written by Wab Kinew. Kinew, a member of the Midewin, is a prominent Manitoba politician and a writer, musician, and former broadcaster. Using the text from rap song lyrics he wrote to celebrate Indigenous heroes, Kinew quashes stereotypes and provides readers with both historical and contemporary examples of diverse American and Canadian Indigenous leaders. The storyline unfolds with a reflection on how connection to the land has always mattered.
Beginning with historical leaders (active in the late 1700s and 1800s) and including contemporary heroes, 14 individuals are highlighted. Included are sports stars (e.g., athlete Jim Thorpe, NHL goalie Carey Price), a celebrated First Nations soldier (Francis Pegahmagabow), an astronaut (John Herrington), and one of the first Indigenous physicians in the Victorian era (Dr. Susan Laflesche Picotte). While some of these leaders may be less well-known, brief biographies are included in the back matter which will orient readers and stimulate further enquiry and discussion for older students.
Using straightforward language, Kinew asks questions (e.g., should a particular woman have received credit rather than men?) and provides encouragement to "do right" and "try to be positive." A recurring message inspires readers to show the world what they can do, beginning with:
This verse is modified and repeated through the book, changing from the individual to "You are people who matter," and finally, "We are people who matter."
The illustrations by multi-talented and award winning artist Joe Morse are outstanding. Morse, who also coordinates the Bachelor of Illustration Program at Sheridan College in Oakville, ON, is known for works that span media and commercial projects, celebrity and sports star portraits, and picture books. In Go Show the World, he elevates the text using watercolour, digital colour and collage, with a colour palette of warm browns, gold, muted greens, blue, and red. The vibrant images vary in linework and texture and evoke strength and courage. They strike a balance between solemnity, pride, and joy.
Historical and contemporary images are interspersed through the book. In one double-paged spread, Morse includes a few historical heroes, rendered in a monochromatic blue-grey, into the background while two contemporary youth in the foreground gaze confidently towards open space and a golden sun. This image invites readers to imagine their future. The next pages introduce modern-day Indigenous heroes (e.g. a physician-movie star, a female Olympic athlete) before connecting again with past heroes who continue to inspire.
One of my favourite illustrations is the final spread, set against a northern winter nightscape, which shows three children, who are of different races, smiling in awe at the northern lights that float above them in the form of a glowing bird. Morse has perfectly captured the author's hope, that the "stories of triumph over adversity" touched upon in this book "will inspire each of us to reach our full potential," and his final call to action:
Along with the biographical section (with mini greyscale portraits), the back matter includes an Author Note, which will be relevant for readers of all backgrounds. Go Show the World, a powerful and uplifting book, belongs in every school library.
Anita Miettunen is a writer based in Vancouver, BC. She is completing a Master of Arts in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia.
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