Nibi's Water Song

By The Horn Book

“I am thirsty, thirsty Nibi and I need water!” declares the main character as she bursts through the door with her French bulldog in tow, but the kitchen sink only yields filthy brown water. She tries the river, but is warned away by a fish. She tries the next town, knocking on doors until a woman gives her bottled water. Her need for water is temporarily satiated, but not her thirst for environmental justice. The budding activist marshals her community to confront the politicians. “Together they danced their way to the shiniest building, and showed all the rule-makers how to heal the water.” Their success finally brings Nibi happiness and contentment. The digitally created illustrations, flat and colorful, recalling elements of folk art, incorporate aspects of contemporary and traditional First Nations life; an appended note describes specific motifs such as beaded pendants, fish, and flowers. Astute readers will easily draw connections to the news headlines about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and to the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner, We Are Water Protectors (rev. 7/20). In separate notes, both the author and illustrator discuss how shamefully prevalent the problem of access to clean water is among First Nations in Canada.