Seven Gifts for Cedar Book written by Cherie Dimaline
Review By: Christine McFarlane
“Seven Gifts for Cedar” written by Metis author Cherie Dimaline is a great book in the sense that it teaches a young audience some very valuable and core traditional values of First Nations culture.
The story is about seven year old Cedar who lives in a big city with her mom and travels to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario to stay with her dad’s family on the reserve every summer. She receives very valuable gifts during her summer visits- the gifts from the Seven Grandfather teachings- humility, wisdom, respect, bravery, honesty, truth and love.
Under the teaching, “humility”-Cedar’s aunt teaches her the importance of humility after overhearing the little girl excitedly describe her bike back in the city, and sees that Cedar’s cousins are hurt by the comparisons made between their bikes on the reserve and Cedar’s bike in the city. Auntie Flora explains to Cedar in her teaching that
“it is important to think about how others feel before you go talking about how great you are and what kind of stuff you have, even if you think it is really really great.,” and goes onto say “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.”
Throughout each summer visit to Georgian Bay, Auntie Flora undertakes the task of teaching Cedar the six other teachings, how to pick medicines, and how each of these teachings can apply to every day life. The story also portrays the strong ties that exist within First Nations families and communities, which in the case of Cedar is the bond between herself as a great niece and her father’s aunt.
This book has been formatted in a way that encourages parents, extended family members and caregivers to read aloud with their young children. There are two different reading levels in this book. Ontario LBS Reading Level 5, in smaller-print text, is intended for the adult to read aloud to the child. Larger-print text in the book is intended for the child to read, it is at a Grade 2 or a LBS Level 2. The content targets 7-10 year olds. It also has a brief section at the end of the book that gives you a word list and grade 2 sight words which give young readers a good base for beginning reading.
This unique reading format within “Seven Gifts for Cedar” is great because it allows the parent and child to read together which in turn strengthens a learning experience between parent and child and makes reading a lot more exciting.
Cherie Dimaline writes “Seven Gifts for Cedar,” and is a Metis author from Georgian Bay; Ontario whose work has been featured in national magazines and diverse anthologies. Her first book ‘Red Rooms’ was published in 2007 and promptly received a Fiction Book of the Year Award. She is the editor of First Nations House magazine, an Aboriginal student publication out of the University of Toronto, and the honoured writer in residence at First Nations House at the University of Toronto.
Seven Gifts for Cedar is 56 pages and published by Ningwakwe Learning Press in 2010. It is available through Ningwakwe Learning Press and also GoodMinds.com