________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 38 . . . . June 5, 2015


Clothing. (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 978-1-4872-0189-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4872-0188-3 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4872-0190-6 (multi-user eBook).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Rachel Yaroshuk.

*** /4



Huron women recorded important events in the patterns they wove into wampum necklaces and belts. Purple and white shells were polished and strung together. A small loom was used to weave the beads into an accessory, like a necklace or belt.

Weigl Educational Publishers' Aboriginal nonfiction titles now include a series on First Nations culture, which, in addition to Clothing, includes Tools and Weapons, Arts and Crafts, Ceremonies and Celebrations, and Music and Dance.

internal art      Clothing begins with a brief introduction on First Nations' various uses for clothing, including: protection from the environment, symbols of status, symbols of belonging, and ways of sharing culture. Following, the book looks in depth at clothing 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 the seasons, which animals and plants they sourced their clothing from, and a few details on the clothing differences between men and woman. In addition, there is a display of clothing artifacts on the adjacent page that depicts clothing items and includes brief text descriptions.

      The pages are artistically represented with colour photographs of current and historic First Nations in traditional clothing. The artifacts are typically itemized in colour, and only a few artifacts are actually shown on the body.

      Clothing is presented in language that can be easily understood by children. The book does include Aboriginal terms with which that children may not be familiar, but 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 version of a Haida mask. Instructions on how create the mask 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 clothing, Iroquois beadwork, and Blackfoot clothing. The book also includes an index for easy reference. Clothing 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 clothing and tradition in the past tense which gives the book an anthropological feel and sidesteps recognition of current First Nations clothing practice 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' clothing traditions. This series acts as an excellent classroom resource to guide children learning about the basics of First Nations clothing.


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.

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.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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