CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002
Li Minoush,written by Manitoba author Bonnie Murray, is the first book in the "Michif Children's Series" which promotes Metis literature and culture. It is also the first book to be published in English with a Michif translation. The story concerns a young boy named Thomas who wishes for his own pet after hearing his two friends discuss their pets. Thomas asks his mother for a cat and promises to take care of it. His mother agrees to the idea, and, together, they select a kitten and name it Minoush, which means cat in Michif, the Metis language. Thomas' mother explains how unique their language is (a blend of French and Cree) and that it is in danger of becoming extinct. Through the cat's unusual name, Thomas is able to educate his friends about the existence of the Michif language.
Li Minoush is culturally significant as Michif is an oral language not often seen in written form. As a reader, it is interesting to see the English and Michif wording side by side and to search for any similar words. It would have been helpful, however, to have used different fonts or colours to help the reader distinguish easily between the two while reading. A pronunciation guide is included at the back of the book.
As a story, Li Minoush is very basic in terms of its plot. There is limited action as the story mainly consists of straightforward dialogue, and the characters are rather "flat." Sheldon Dawson's paintings, which accompany the story, are generally portraits of Thomas and his mother. The size of the illustrations (primarily close-ups) makes Li Minoush suitable for large group sharing, although the images lack variety. The cover illustration is the most appealing as it conveys emotion.
Overall, Li Minoush succeeds in communicating the unique identity of the Metis culture but lacks spark where the story is concerned. It would be suitable to add this book to a collection on the theme of Appreciating Differences and/or the Metis Culture to be used as a starting point to a further discussion/lesson.
Sykes has worked as an early years teacher and teacher-librarian in
Winnipeg, MB. She is currently at home enjoying her time with her two
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