This gentle, informative children’s picture book is based on the true story of the time author David Robertson and his father returned to the trapline of his father’s youth. In this fictionalized version, a young boy and his moshom – his grandfather – fly to northern Canada. The boy is excited because they are going to see the trapline which Moshom left behind when he was a child. Unsure of exactly where they are going and what they will see, the boy asks, “What’s a trapline?” Moshom replies, “Traplines are where people hunt animals and live off the land.”
As the boy and his grandfather, along with an elderly friend, make the journey to the trapline, the boy is struck with the vastness of the north and the ways it is different from the crowded city where he lives. Moshom shares stories from his youth as they travel – pointing out the house where his family lived when they left the trapline behind; telling of how his whole family slept in the same room by the wood stove to keep warm in the winter; indicating the beach where he and his siblings swam; relating how he and other children were forced to go to school and speak English (though he and the other kids snuck into the bush to speak Cree to each other); and finally, showing the boy where he and his family lived on the trapline. The boy’s horizon is expanded as he learns the old ways from Moshom and revels in the animals and birds he encounters, along with the Indigenous community he meets.
Illustrator Julie Flett’s earth-toned artwork captures northern majesty and enhances author David Robertson’s celebration of Indigenous culture and the loving relationship between a boy and his grandfather, held together in the tension between the old ways and the modern world.
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