Shelf Awareness: 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 grandmaJohnny's Pheasant delivers a message--as Grandma says, "Pheasants belong in the wild"--with a feather-soft touch. Cheryl Minnema (Hungry Johnny), a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, drives her story with easygoing humor but not one superfluous word; Grandma's "Howah" is all that's needed to make clear that she and Johnny are Indigenous. Cree-Métis artist Julie Flett's (My Heart Fills with Happiness) sharp-edged geometric art, rendered in a subdued earthy palette, recalls the collage work of Ezra Jack Keats, although the enticing textures--bristly olive-colored grass, mottled floorboards with nailheads--are Flett's own. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

 

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