The First Blades of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story by Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey, illustrated by Nancy Baker

Published by Tilbury House Publishers

The First Blade of Sweetgrass: Greenlaw, Suzanne, Frey, Gabriel, Baker,  Nancy: 9780884487609: Books

Summary:  When Musquon goes with Grandmother to gather sweetgrass, she has to learn how to identify it among the other grasses.  Her grandmother gives her a lesson, but at first, Musquon just pulls up handfuls of grass.  Patiently, Grandmother goes through the steps again, then reminds her granddaughter that her ancestors are there to help.  Musquon closes her eyes and imagines her grandmother as a little girl with her grandmother.  When she looks at the grasses again, she can see which blades are sweetgrass.  She reaches to pick them, but then remembers her grandmother’s words: “If we never pick the first blade, we will never pick the last one.”  Musquon picks the next blade she sees, continuing until she has enough to show her grandmother.  Grandmother praises her, then says she will next teach her how to braid the sweetgrass into baskets. Includes an author’s note with additional information about sweetgrass and the Wabanaki Confederacy, and a list of the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words used in the text, with a dictionary website for more information.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A beautiful story that celebrates sweetgrass, the Wabanaki, ecology, and the power of handing down stories and arts from one generation to the next.

Cons:  I would have enjoyed seeing a photo of the sweetgrass.

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