Water Walkers
by Carol Trembath
illustrations by David W. Craig   
Lakeside Publishing

 

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

 

"Grandmother planned to walk around each of the Great Lakes, one by one. She taught me that it is our Ojibway people's custom to watch over and protect the water. I thought about Grandmother's words. I wondered how I could help."

Mai is a little Ojibway girl who wants to learn from her tribal elders. Her grandmother is going to walk around each of the Great Lakes, and she agrees to let Mai come along because "Even our little ones can make ripples and waves.” Mai's task is to fill a copper bucket with lake water each morning. This ritual is followed by Grandmother's prayers and songs. Mai notices that in one town there are lots of plastic bags in the water, a lesson in the problem of pollution. She observes that a family of deer have to walk farther than ever to get to the edge of the lake to drink, and a bear tries to catch fish and can't find any. Grandmother says Mai can help Mother Earth save the shrinking waters; she can be like the rabbit, not running far but taking long hops to reach out to children all over the world. Mai learns she can make ripples, teaching others about conserving water and picking up trash.

This is a beautifully illustrated book, with soft colorful drawings by Craig. Trembath's introduction relates that the story is based on factual information: The Mother Earth Water Walkers began their task of circling the Great Lakes in 2003, led by the Ojibway and other tribes indigenous to the area. The story includes symbols of the tribes and their spiritual beliefs. Written for older children and geared to increasing consciousness of ecological issues, the book has a glossary, some study questions, and a list of resources regarding the Water Walkers. With the lovely pictures and simple but instructive text, Water Walkers would make a great read-to study book for parents, grandparents, and any child on your gift list.

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