First Nations Picture Books–Dipnetting with Dad by Willie Sellars

When I was teaching grade school full time, both on the reservation and off, this is exactly the sort of picture book I wanted–a contemporary slice-of-life story about a First Nations family celebrating something important to their culture. I’m particularly exited because this story comes from the salmon fishing peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Author Willie Sellers spins a lively tale of a boy’s first salmon catch using a playful and breezy tone but still conveying many important cultural details, such as preparing for the salmon fishing trip by praying in the sweat lodge and offering tobacco to the Creator. He captures the boy’s nervousness about the steep trail and swift waters of the river. He demonstrates the many steps in preparing dried salmon, with clarity and good humor. Willie Sellars is a T’exelc–a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band. He is a life long fisherman and perhaps what I love the most about this book is the way he conveys the warmth and humor of this family in his story.

The illustrator Kevin Easthope is also from Williams Lake, BC. His illustrations are fresh and fun and colorful. They do a great job of putting the reader in the thick of the action whether it’s climbing the steep riverbanks, reaching over the water with a dipnet or running way from Grandma.

I would heartily recommend this book to any one working with grade school students or anyone interested in the culture of the Pacific Northwest. There is a teachers guide for this book and a free coloring page from the publisher. If you’d like to hear the author and illustrator talking about the collaboration, here’s a you tube of them with some great footage of actual dipnet fishing. This book’s Canadian publisher is Caitlin Press. It has been endorsed by the Tk’emlúps Chief Shane Gottfriedson and noted author and Xat’sull Chief Bev Sellers.

One thought on “First Nations Picture Books–Dipnetting with Dad by Willie Sellars

  1. Arjay Clark

    I’m American Indian and a children’s librarian. Thank you for doing this write up about Dipnetting With Dad… and giving an opportunity for your blog readers to learn of the talented author Willie Sellars and equally talented illustrator Kevin Easthope.

    I really appreciate the focus on the cultures / nations of the Pacific Northwest. BTW let me give my approval of your historical novel Written In Stone, whose main character is girl from the Makah Nation.

    Most YA or Children’s books about Native people seem to focus on nations more commonly known across the USA… and whose populations tend to be larger than most. Such as Navajo, Lakota, Cherokee, Apache and so on. I think its fantastic that these nations are written about if done correctly…. but getting to see smaller nations spotlighted is also heartening.

    Thank you Ms. Parry for placing the focus on this book

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