Encounter written by Brittany Luby and illustrated by Michaela Goade, published by Little, Brown and Company.
Each time I read Encounter, I am enthralled by Luby's absolutely beautiful language and Goade's enchanting illustrations. The talents of these creators, both of indigenous descent, gently hold readers in this insightful picture book of two people from different cultures encountering each other with equal curiosity and peace.
When sharing this story, remember to present it as a work of fiction (no matter how much we wish it were true), a re-imagining of Jaques Cartier's encounter with a Stadaconan fisherman. What if the true encounter had been peaceful? What if the French sought friendship over land ownership? What if we could still see each other as the seagull does, that we all "cast long shadows," or how the mosquito remarks that we "both taste delicious," or how the crab notices that we have "each found a shell to suit [us]?"
I'd like to emphasize that I am reviewing this book as a white American and French woman. Through that lens, I see so much value in this book. I can imagine how different our world might have been if Europeans had approached their encounters with natives in a spirit of friendship, peace, and respect.
It's essential to teach the true stories, however difficult, violent, or disturbing, of what those initial encounters were indeed like. But also, it's important to reflect on how the events could have been so much different, for us to realize that all actions have consequences, and to avoid the grave mistakes of the past.
As Luby, of Anishinaabe descent, underlines in the Author's Reflection, "violence is a choice." This picture book encourages readers, young and old, to reflect on the real possibility of peace that could have been chosen and to embrace its spirit, the same in which we can approach each other now and in the future.
Imagine a place you've never been. At the library or online, find a picture, a video, or an audio recording of the environment and people who live there.
Imagine a conversation with someone. What would you ask them?
Imagine eating a meal with them. What would you eat?
Imagine dancing with them. What would the music sound like and how would your body move?
Imagine playing a game or sport with them. What would you play? Would it really matter who won?
Write a short story or create pictures of the moments you imagine with this new person.
Imagine what a wonderful friendship you could have.