________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 35. . . .May 15, 2015


Tools and Weapons.(First Nations).

Pamela McDowell.
Calgary, AB: Weigl Educational Publishers, 2015.
24 pp., pbk., hc. & & multi user eBook, $11.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (RLB), $34.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4872-0198-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4872-0197-5 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4872-0199-9 (multi-user eBook).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Rachel Yaroshuk.

*** /4


Every Canadian First Nation made tools for different purposes. Tools were used to hunt, fish, build homes, prepare food, and make clothing. A tool, such as a harpoon, may be used for one specific task. Another tool, such as a maul or hammer, could be used to do many jobs.”


Weigl Educational Publishers’ Aboriginal nonfiction titles now include a series on First Nations culture including Tools and Weapons, Arts and Crafts, Ceremonies and Celebrations, Clothing and Music and Dance.

     The Tools and Weapons title begins with a brief introduction on First Nations’ tool and weapon uses, including tools for transportation, weapons for hunting, tools for preparing food and clothing, and tools for building homes. Following the introduction, the book looks in depth at tools and weapons from the perspective of the Algonquin, Blackfoot, Cree, Haida, Huron, Iroquois, Mi’kmaq, and Ojibwa.

     Each nation has a dedicated two paragraph description explaining how specific First Nations adapted to their environment, which animals and plants they sourced their tools and weapons from, and how those tools and weapons were used in day-to-day life. In addition, there is a display of tool and weapon artifacts on the adjacent page that depict tools and weapons with a brief text description below.

     The pages are artistically represented with colour photographs and illustrations of current and historic First Nations using traditional tools and weapons. There are also photographs of First Nations tools and supplies, and the items created via these tools. The artifacts are typically itemized in colour on the adjacent page with accompanying brief text descriptions.

     Tools and Weapons is presented in language that can be easily understood by children. The book does include First Nations’ terms that children may not be familiar with. These complex terms are explained in the key words section at the end of the book to ensure the text remains accessible to all readers.

     To complement the information presented, an activity section encourages readers to make their own birchbark container. Instructions on how create a birchbark container are well-suited for a classroom setting.

     Finally, there is a dedicated section to promote what’s online. This section highlights reliable websites on Mi’kmaq daily life: tools and implements, Haida tools, and Algonquin tools. This book also includes an index for easy reference. Tools and Weapons is a fabulous resource to drawn on when teaching children how to engage with information texts.

     My only major concern with this title is the chosen verb tense used to communicate the content. Author Pamela McDowell often refers to First Nations tools and weapons in the past tense giving the book an anthropologic feel and sidesteps recognition of current First Nations’ tool and weapon practices and the revival of traditional practices.

     Despite this shortcoming, I would recommend this series for children age nine to twelve, both for school projects and general interest. I appreciate that McDowell took the time to single out specific First Nations tool and weapon traditions. This series acts as an excellent classroom resource to guide children learning about the basics of First Nations tools and weapons.


Rachel Yaroshuk is a Teen Librarian with Burnaby Public Library in Burnaby, BC..

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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