The Frog Mother
The Frog Mother
Nox Ga’naaw has continued the life cycle of her family, a cycle that has existed for over 200 million years. Many of the other frogs have been, and will be, a source of food for other species in their ecosystem. As the Gitxsan have born witness since time immemorial, there is a delicate balance of food for all living in their realm. Nox Ga’naaw and her offspring are an integral piece of this balance that is life.
This attractive picture book, fourth in the “Mothers of Xsan” series, gives a particular perspective to the frog life cycle so familiar to many youngsters. When viewed through the lens of Gitxsan culture, appreciation deepens for the renewal of life so fundamental to the balance of nature. Not only has the frog provided a vital link in the food chain during its 200 million years of existence, but its spirit has been a source of story, song and teachings—an embodiment—for the Gitxsan, feeding their historic connection to the environment.
Nox Ga’naaw’s (the frog mother’s) story is presented in phases of Gitxsan moons that mark the seasons, beginning with Spring Salmon’s Returning Home Moon (time of spawning) to Getting-Used-to-Cold Moon (hibernation in the pond mud) and into the following summer, or Gathering and Preparing Berries Moon (frogs as adults). As the frog mother matures through the years, she continues the cycle of life so closely linked to the Indigenous culture. Readers will find the list of Moons in back matter pages, along with some history of the Gitxsan society and a map of their territory in the Northwestern British Columbia Interior. Selected key vocabulary is defined in small footnote inserts on the first page where the term appears.
Vibrant and charming, the illustrations will draw readers into Nox Ga’naaw’s world through the use of earth-tone colours (browns, greens, yellows, blues) and animated images of the frogs at every life stage. Readers need to note the watchful eyes: there’s a wisdom depicted there suggesting age-old knowledge and understanding of the frog’s role and influence in its world, its ability to “speak all languages and truths of the universe”. Included with the life-style drawings in most scenes is an Indigenous formline characterization of the frog, tadpole or moon. The more readers explore the illustrations, the more detail they will see to realize how integral is the frog’s place in the environment.
The Frog Mother is a wonderful addition to the series with its simple focus on one enduring life form.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in British Columbia.