The First Blade of Sweetgrass

The First Blade of Sweetgrass
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
6+
Release Date
August 10, 2021
ISBN
978-0884487609
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In this Own Voices Native American picture book story, a modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making.

Musquon must overcome her impatience while learning to distinguish sweetgrass from other salt marsh grasses, but slowly the spirit and peace of her surroundings speak to her, and she gathers sweetgrass as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations. This sweet, authentic story from a Maliseet mother and her Passamaquoddy husband includes backmatter about traditional basket making and a Wabanaki glossary.

Editor review

1 review
Tradition and Family
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
‘The First Blade of Sweetgrass’ by Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey, illustrations by Nancy Baker, tells the story of Musqon and her grandmother as they pick grass for basket making. Musqon must learn how to properly tell the various grasses apart, and her grandmother gives her tips and tricks to do so. The story delves into the tradition of the art of picking grass, harkening back to Musqon’s ancestors who used to pick sweetgrass themselves. It also details the future of her people, as she leaves the first blade of sweetgrass for the coming generations, so they will have their own sweetgrass to pick and stories to tell.

The illustrations are beautiful and mesmerizing as they take readers right into the story, feeling as though they’re present with Musqon and her grandmother during the grass picking. Images of baskets that contain the picked sweetgrass are shown, and the beauty of the land is clearly evident in the picturesque pages.

It was especially nice to see a glossary and some back matter about the story behind the book, including how sweetgrass is used beyond basket making. It is a beautiful tale of tradition, coming of age, and family.
Good Points
It was nice to see a glossary and some back matter about the story behind the book, including how sweetgrass is used beyond basket making. It is a beautiful tale of tradition, coming of age, and family.
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