________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 3 . . . . September 18, 2015


Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox.

Danielle Daniel.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2015.
40 pp., hardcover & pdf, $18.95 (hc.), $16.95 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-55498-750-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-751-1 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Totems-Juvenile poetry.
Animals-Juvenile poetry.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Christina Quintiliani.

**** /4


Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox is author Danielle Daniel's first publication in children's literature. Inspired by Daniel's desire to assist her young son in enhancing his understanding and appreciation of his aboriginal roots, the book is a stunning glimpse into the traditions of the Anishinaabe culture. In Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, the reader is introduced to 12 different totem animals. Daniel states in her author notes that, in Anishinaabe, the word "totem" or "doodem", refers to an indigenous clan. According to Anishinaabe tradition, all children belong to an animal clan and are assigned a totem animal at birth which serves as a guide throughout their lives. It is not uncommon for children to associate with the characteristics and behaviours of more than one totem animal, but, in Anishinaabe tradition, it is the main totem animal that acts as one's primary physical and spiritual guide.

internal art      In Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, Daniel serves as both writer and illustrator, weaving together a seamless blend of poetic descriptions and visual representations. Using acrylic on canvas as her medium of choice, Daniel presents a series of vibrant illustrations of children dressed in animal costume or traditional headdress. Each illustration is accompanied by a brief, two sentence description of the animal and its associated behaviours and traits.

Sometimes I feel like a turtle, slow and quiet. I retreat into my shell and find peace and solitude.

      Daniel effectively uses adjectives throughout her text, and her selective choice of wording cleverly complements each animal being described. While the majority of text is appropriate for a younger age group, some more advanced adjectives will require additional explanation by educators to assist children in fully comprehending their intended meanings. The minimalist nature of the text is mirrored by the simplicity of the font which is consistently presented in isolation on the left hand side of the page on a neutral background. This approach is quite effective in drawing the reader's eye to the illustrations where a single "animal" is presented to correspond with the text. Daniel's attractive use of colour and attention to detail are truly highlights of this beautifully constructed book.

      Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox encourages children to make personal connections to the provided examples and consider similarities between animal and human behaviours. An ideal instructional resource for aboriginal and non-aboriginal students alike, this book can be used to introduce young children to indigenous traditions or advance older children's understanding of aboriginal culture through classroom discussion. The content can easily be used as a springboard for creative writing activities wherein children can select their own totem animal and discuss when and why they might associate with its characteristics. Children will undoubtedly appreciate the diversity of animals portrayed in the book and the playful, creative manner in which they are represented in the illustrations.

      The author's supplementary notes and concluding list which corresponds the 12 totem animals to their dominant character traits are helpful resources that enhance the reader's experience by providing the background knowledge required to fully appreciate the content.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate researching children's literature at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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