Posted by Carrie MacKenzie
We Dream Medicine Dreams, written and illustrated by Lisa Bovin, is a beautiful and moving story of a young girl saying goodbye to her dying grandfather who is in a coma in the hospital. She talks to him about the teachings he passed on to her and how they give her strength when she deals with losing him. This book is intended for children aged 5-8 years.
The story is about death in a gentle and age-appropriate way. It deals with the sadness the child feels but also focuses on the positive memories they have of their grandfather and the lessons they passed on to them. As she lies down next to him and says goodbye, she tells him what they mean to her. The use of animal traits, as well as those of the land called gifts, shows the reader how to use them in his life to deal with difficult situations. This prevents the reader from becoming emotionally overwhelmed by a difficult topic.
The language used is age-appropriate. The message in the book is understood by the audience so they can process it and use it to get stronger. It helps them not to be overwhelmed by such a painful subject.
When the little girl refers to her grandfather’s teachings, she calls them gifts that deepen and expand the meaning of the word teachings. This enables the reader to see them in a different light. This opens up different perspectives to the reader.
Language also creates amazing images that allow the reader to create their own mental images. This increases their creativity and their own visual imagery gives them a sense of ownership and investment in the story.
The illustrations in this book are both stunning and breathtaking. They are full of amazing details and bright colors that add to the beauty and impact of the gifts that are conveyed to the reader. This element also helps to involve the reader in the story. The illustrations also help define and complement the character of the story.
This story has a gentle and loving tone that reflects the relationship between a child and their grandparents. This prevents the reader from becoming emotionally overwhelmed and from focusing on the message of the book. This makes it easier to process the news despite the grief over the loss of a grandparent.
Indigenous culture is something else that comes into its own in this story. This is illustrated by the teaching and style of the illustrations. This has a double effect on the audience. Indigenous children who read this book feel comfortable and proud that their culture is brought to life. Non-indigenous readers are also confronted with these aspects of indigenous culture. In addition, children have meaningful relationships with animals. Using animals and their characteristics to impart these teachings helps them focus their attention on what is being passed on. This also makes the process of difficult issues easier for children.
We Dream Medicine Dreams is an amazing story. It is beautiful both visually and linguistically. It would be a wonderful addition to any public and private library.
Lisa Bovin, We Dream Medicine Dreams, (Winnipeg: Highwater Press, 2021).