Nibi's Water Song

By Kirkus Reviews

An enthusiastic but thirsty Anishinabe girl and her French bulldog search everywhere looking for clean water to drink. After playing outside, Nibi and her dog go inside for a nice, cool drink of water. Brown, sludgy water pours from the tap. They run to the river, but even the fish says, “You can’t drink this dirty water!” Nibi and the dog go to the next town and run along a street with “big, shiny houses.” She knocks on doors until a lady hands Nibi a small bottle of water. But the water’s gone too quickly! She tries again, at that house and the others. “KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!” But no one answers. She paints a sign: “Water Is Life / I Am Thirsty.” Soon, her friends join her. They make their own signs, and Nibi’s quest becomes a peaceful protest. (Even her dog carries a sign: “Woof!”) They march in the town with the big, shiny houses, and its people join in, and finally, lawmakers listen. Before long, the river is clear, and clean water runs from the taps. Water activist Tenasco (Anishinabe) effectively uses Nibi’s dilemma to illustrate a larger point. Nibi’s song—“I am thirsty, thirsty Nibi / and I need water!”—acts as an urgent refrain. Lively, colorful illustrations from Chief Lady Bird (Chippewa and Potawatomi) add to the energy of the story, incorporating stylized fish and flower motifs into the clean-lined illustrations of the brown-skinned, pigtailed girl. One gutsy girl leads the way.