Book: Missing Nimâmâ
Author: Melanie Florence
Illustrator: François Thisdale
Publisher: Clockwise Press
Date: October 16, 2015
Genre: picture book; ages 8 & up, gr 3 & up
My rating: Sensitively told story bringing awareness of
a tragic reality
This book has been written with heart. Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence is a sensitive and beautiful story about a young indigenous girl whose mother went missing. Although her child cannot see her, the mother is always present in spirit, watching as her nimâmâ (Cree for mother) brings up her daughter in her place. The story is told from the voice of the child, often in conversation with her nôhkom (grandmother), and then her mother’s viewpoint – back and forth. That style of writing creates a tenderness and wistfulness that is both touching and enlightening. The illustrations created by award-winning illustrator François Thisdale are soft and realistic, adding dimension and texture to the story.
I think I first learned of this picture book, Missing Nimâmâ, when I heard the author being interviewed on CBC radio. It came up at another time, too, and I knew I had to read it. It gripped me. The topic it addresses is a horrible and shameful one – the disappearance of many indigenous women in Canada, and also in the US. It is alarming the large number – hundreds – of missing, and believed to be murdered, aboriginal girls and women in North America. Far too many are unsolved cases that should never have happened and many could have been prevented, or not ended as tragically had there been timely attention given.
After reading all of that you may wonder, how is this a children’s book? The author, Melanie Florence, has masterfully written a sweet story that is very suitable for children. She introduces the reader to a few of the traditions of a Cree family, and inserts some Cree words, making it interesting on more than one level. The child’s grandmother speaks of her own daughter as being “one of the lost women”, and helps the little girl remember her nimâmâ fondly throughout her growing-up years. The ending brings it to a satisfactory conclusion, and yet, it does not end. It’s quite sad when the reality of it hits you, and yet it’s so compassionately told that you want every child to be given the chance to understand.
Missing Nimâmâ, written by Melanie Florence and illustrated by François Thisdale, won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, was selected for an honorable mention as an OLA Best Bets 2016 Honour Book, and is a 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award finalist. It’s a very deserving book.
You can find Missing Nimâmâ on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.
SPECIAL NOTE: Melanie has agreed to an interview! Come back Thursday, April 27, to enjoy the interview and leave a comment for a giveaway – a copy of Missing Nimâmâ – courtesy of Clockwise Press.
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂