CM . . . . Volume XX Number 23 . . . . February 14, 2014
Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle is about a young Metis girl named Metisse. There is an upcoming celebration for her grandmother's birthday in which Metisse's role is to dance a traditional Butterfly Dance with the other young girls in her community. However, in Metisse's spare time, her grandfather has been teaching her how to fiddle to surprise her grandmother, or Memere. When Metisse excitedly tells her family and friends that she intends to fiddle at the party, she is met with the response that she should be dancing as that is what girls' roles are at these types of celebrations.
Throughout the story, Metisse learns that she has to decide what role is best for her as she is not good at dancing and she gets her feet all tangled up when she tries. She realizes that, when she is playing the fiddle, she has no problem keeping time with her feet and dancing around. After trying her best to dance at the party, and failing, she has a special performance of the song her Pawpaw taught her on the fiddle, and everyone ends up dancing and cheering for her. Metisse's response? "I told you, some girls dance, and some girls play the fiddle."
This book teaches kids that they don't need to follow what they are told they should be interested in or good at based on gender, but that they should pursue what they are passionate about. The only thing about this book that is a little confusing is the fact that the book is about a Metis family, something which is never expressly indicated within the text, but the traditions and terminology are such a large part of the plot. There is a glossary at the back of the book which indicates family members' names and what the types of dances and songs are that are discussed in the book. Most kids would probably need a little bit of explanation about what Metis culture is, and how it originated.
The illustrations of the book, which appear to be watercolour painting, are very colourful. They are done in a realistic cartoon style and contain hints of Canadian and Metis culture throughout the book, including maple syrup and traditional Metis shawls used for traditional celebrations.
Alison Schroeder has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and is a lover of children's books.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.