Johnny’s Pheasant

2019
Author:

Cheryl Minnema
Illustrations by Julie Flett

Johnny’s Pheasant

An encounter with a pheasant (which may or may not be sleeping) takes a surprising turn in this sweetly serious and funny story of a Native American boy and his grandma

Johnny and Grandma are in for a surprise when Grandma agrees to bring home a sleeping pheasant. Readers will delight at this lesson about patience and kindness and respect for nature, imparted by Grandma’s gentle humor, Johnny’s happy hooting, and all the quiet wisdom found in Cheryl Minnema’s stories of Native life and Julie Flett’s remarkably evocative and beautiful illustrations.

Quietly funny . . . any child who has found a dead or injured animal will relate.

Kirkus Reviews

“Pull over, Grandma! Hurry!” Johnny says. Grandma does, and Johnny runs to show her what he spotted near the ditch: a sleeping pheasant. What Grandma sees is a small feathery hump. When Johnny wants to take it home, Grandma tries to tell him that the pheasant might have been hit by a car. But maybe she could use the feathers for her craftwork? So home with Grandma and Johnny the pheasant goes . . .



It’s hard to say who is most surprised by what happens next—Grandma, Johnny, or the pheasant. But no one will be more delighted than the reader at this lesson about patience and kindness and respect for nature, imparted by Grandma’s gentle humor, Johnny’s happy hooting, and all the quiet wisdom found in Cheryl Minnema’s stories of Native life and Julie Flett’s remarkably evocative and beautiful illustrations.

Awards

Cooperative Children’s Book Center Charlotte Zolotow Award

Johnny’s Pheasant

Cheryl Minnema (Waabaanakwadookwe) is a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She was born in Minneapolis and raised on the Mille Lacs Reservation. Along with writing children’s literature and poetry, she creates Ojibwe floral beadwork and nature photography. She is author of Hungry Johnny, which was a 2015 Native America Calling book club selection.

Julie Flett is a Cree-Métis author, illustrator, and artist who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has received many awards, including the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book, and Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Awards. Her Wild Berries, one of Kirkus’s Best Children’s Books of 2013, was a title selection for Canada’s First Nation Communities Read.

Johnny’s Pheasant

Quietly funny . . . any child who has found a dead or injured animal will relate.

Kirkus Reviews

The interplay between the two Native characters’ viewpoints lends subtle humor in this delightful celebration of intergenerational love.

Publishers Weekly

Johnny's Pheasant is a delight on many levels.

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Charming folk-art color illustrations are on one page with text on the opposite page. The illustrations cover two pages when Grandma and Johnny first approach the pheasant, with the text in the sky. The narrative touches on compassion and death as a daily part of life. Sweet and amusing, this modern Native intergenerational story is a good general purchase.

School Library Journal

The down-to-earth and steadily paced text centers on the dialogue between characters, which adds humor and drives the plot. A vertical, isometric-esque view is used in the textured, pattern-filled illustrations, and neutral tones abound. The story arc focuses on the pheasant’s dramatic resurrection, but the tender and playful relationship between grandmother and grandchild is a shining constant.

The Horn Book, starred review

Johnny's Pheasant delivers a message—as Grandma says, ‘Pheasants belong in the wild’—with a feather-soft touch.

Shelf Awareness, starred review