The Barren Grounds

The Barren Grounds
(The Misewa Saga, Book 1)
written by David A. Robertson
Puffin Canada, 2020
978-0-7352-6610-0 (hc) $21.99
978-0-7352-6611-7 (eBook) $10.99
for Grade 5 and up

Fiction / Fantasy / Adventure / Indigenous / Cree

Morgan is finding it hard not to be jaded and resentful at being in yet another foster home, yet she feels a connection with Eli who has recently moved in. The story grows as the two enter a portal to another land (Aski) through a picture drawn by Eli. Ochek (Fisher) welcomes them to a place called Misewa during the White Time. The three team up with Arikwachas (squirrel) or Arik for short, as they embark on a perilous and amazing adventure, trying to bring the Green Time back to Misewa and all of Aski.

Reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia, this is an entertaining and magical book, which includes humans, talking animals and adventure. David A. Robertson, a member of Norway House Cree Nation, masterfully weaves many story threads together within the pages. It is a beautiful tale about the importance of being good stewards of the land and a story about disconnection, finding your way home and making new bonds and relationships. Robertson brings one of the Cree legends of the constellations and sky, Ochekatchakosuk, to life. Not only a wondrous and whimsical novel, it is a powerful allegory to the history of Canada and Indigenous peoples. Within the pages, the reader is able to see things from an Indigenous lens, and we learn a little bit about Cree customs, ethics and language.

This is the first book in the Misewa Saga and I cannot wait to read the other titles in the series. Accessible, enlightening and engaging to Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, this is highly recommended for home, school and public libraries.

Colette Poitras is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and is the Manager of the Indigenous Public Outreach for Public Library Services Branch, Alberta.

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