CM . . .
. Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015
Author Willie Sellars has created a fun and entertaining story documenting the dipnetting tradition. Sellars is connected to his traditional culture as a band member of the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc) and that connection clearly shows in the way he shares the tale Dipnetting With Dad.
The book begins with a boy of about eight, eagerly waking up for his first dipnetting trip. He starts by helping his dad prepare and mend the equipment, and then the father and son join grandpa in the sweat lodge. The family travels to the river where dad demonstrates how to dipnet for salmon. Finally, it’s our protagonists turn to dipnet. At first, it seems like he will not catch any fish, but when he finally catches his first salmon, he is ecstatic. With a boost of confidence, the boy shows a natural talent and catches many salmon.
The boy, the father, and the grandfather return home with their fish, and they are greeted by their family. Everyone helps prepare the fish for smoking, and grandma adds her secret spice blend that gives the fish flavour. Finally, when the fish is dry, the family gathers to eat together.
This story is full of details on the dipnetting experience, but rather than making this a dull documentary of the dipnetting process, the author offers a fun and playful experience. The text, typically presented in shaded bubbles, is evenly distributed across the pages. The author splatters the text with alliteration and onomatopoeia to add playful elements to the story. Despite the fun characteristics of the text, the author is respectful of tradition, incorporating elements of tobacco offerings and sweat lodge prayers into the story.
Illustrator Kevin Easthope picks up on Sellars’ playful notes with comic-like illustrations. The pencil crayon characters are colourful with exaggerated features. The illustrations emphasize the expressions and feelings of each character. The drawings are full of eye-catching details in the background and characters that are bursting with life in the foreground. The combination of text and illustration is highly complementary.
While this book is presented as a storybook, it does include a brief glossary at the back of the book to help younger audiences with complex vocabulary and First Nations cultural terminology.
Dipnetting With Dad is a fantastic, playful collaboration between text and illustrative art. The text clearly demonstrates Sellars’ connection with his culture and the dipnetting tradition. While the story may be of interest to younger children, due to the length of the text, I would recommend it for children ages 5-8.
Rachel Yaroshuk is a Teen Services Librarian at Burnaby Public Library in Burnaby, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.