The First Blade of Sweetgrass by Suzanne Greenlaw

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Musquon must overcome her impatience while learning to distinguish sweetgrass from other salt marsh grasses, but slowly the spirit and peace of her surroundings speak to her, and she gathers sweetgrass as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations. This sweet, authentic story from a Maliseet mother and her Passamaquoddy husband includes backmatter about traditional basket making and a Wabanaki glossary.
While hunting for summer's sweetgrass, a young Wabanaki girl learns patience from her grandmother... Greenlaw (Houlton Band of Maliseet) and Frey (Passamaquoddy), a basket maker himself, pen a tender ode to a treasured tradition. Muted illustrations rendered in pastels on brown paper evoke the coastal Maine landscape and fit nicely with the tranquil pace of this lyrical tale. Quiet text shows how careful observation and the respect of nature can provide unexpected gifts.-- "Kirkus" (6/2/2021 12:00:00 AM)

PW Starred Review - Emphasizing the importance of conservation and tradition in Native culture, married authors Greenlaw (who is Maliseet) and Frey (who is Passamaquoddy) expertly craft a sweet story that centers a Wabanaki grandmother and granddaughter...Baker's earth-toned illustrations feature soft edges, subtle colors, and braided sweetgrass borders, while lyrical text renders experience in evocative sensory prose ("the thin whine of mosquitos grew distant"). The result is a deeply personal, thoughtfully detailed account.-- "PW" (6/10/2021 12:00:00 AM)

Gabriel Frey (Orono, ME) is Passamaquoddy and a citizen of Passamaquoddy at Sipayik. He is an awarded-winning basket maker, artist, and cultural knowledge keeper. His mother and Suzanne and Gabriel's two daughters, Musqon and Alamossit, helped inspire The First Blade of Sweetgrass.

Nancy Baker (Thomaston, ME) is a Maine artist, illustrator, and muralist whose landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works in oils and pastels are represented by Mars Hall Gallery in Tenants Harbor, Maine. While visiting the sweetgrass meadows of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park with Suzanne and Gabriel, authors of The First Blade of Sweetgrass, Nancy learned the ecology and cultural importance of sweetgrass and witnessed the majesty of the landscape in which it grows, qualities that she has worked to convey in her illustrations.

ages: 6-8

Tilbury House Publishers

Pub Date: August 1-0, 2021

0.55" H x 10.08" L x 9.21" W

32 pages