Awakened gently by Sun, Sailor sets off to explore new lands where he meets Fisher, and although they speak and dress differently, they find they have much in common. Includes author's note about the first encounter between a European explorer and a Native North American.
This book deserves more than one read. It deserves time to really look at the images and consider the human nature, as well as, historical facts. This picture book is not just a
Even the title, ‘Encounter’, is enticing. What does that mean – a fleeting meeting between strangers. And sometimes those unexpected encounters can leave a long-life impression.
Everything about this book is interesting. The end pages are worth pondering: the first spread is sunrise with animals still in slumber and some waking up and the last spread is nighttime with moon shining bright. The land looks like Canada – the beluga whales gives a clue that it takes place on the east coast. The first page flap asks a few open-ended questions to get you thinking before you even start reading. And, the first paragraph gives context about what is to be read.
The story is lovely – the role of the sun is enchanting. The perspectives of the Fisher and Sailor are different but, at other times, similar; and the animals are insightful. The encounter between the strangers take place between sunrise and sunset.
The historical notes are also an important aspect to this story. For a very long time, history was been told from a limited number of people who share similar perspectives on events. History has scarred people and critically looking at the past can help us be compassionate and help heal as a community.
This book is a good read for both young and old. This book is a good conversation starter and to help with reflecting on own perspectives about our own Canadian history.
Readers will also want to return to this story again and again for its illustrations, which are saturated with colour. My eyes gobbled up these pictures. Wow! This art is sure to win awards.
Author and illustrator are Indigenous and have followed appropriate protocols for sharing this narrative. ENCOUNTER is a must-have for public and school libraries and would make a fantastic gift for new parents just beginning to build a family book collection. Highly recommended!
What might have been if the first encounter of North American Indigenous People with Europeans (An Anishinabek man and Jacques Cartier, say) had been different from what it was.
In this book Fisher awakes with the sun and sets out to fish for mackerel.
It was bound to happen — “Sun had not traveled far when Fisher and Sailor paddled into the same bay.”
Shortly afterwards, they meet on the beach. From overhead Seagull squawks, “You are not so different. You both cast long shadows.”
Sailor manages to communicate with Fish by drawing pictures in the sand of his journey across the sea.
They share each other’s strange food — sea biscuits from Sailor; sunflower seeds from Fisher. At first bite, neither is impressed, but …
They swim together; they explore together.
All-in-all, they pass a Jim-dandy day. Their “foreignness” is not a problem.
This book is a children’s picture book, so the illustrations are equally as important as the text in telling the story of Fisher and Sailor spending an enjoyable day getting to know each other a little bit.
Perhaps Mosquito best states the common ground, the common blood, so to speak, that Fisher and Sailor share.
“You have much in common,” Mosquito says. “You both taste the same.”
Ah, b’ys, what might have been.
Encounter is a book I sought out largely because I was looking for more of Tlingit illustrator Michaela Goade's work, after loving her Caldecott Medal-winning illustrations, in Carole Lindstrom's We Are Water Protectors. On that score, this book is a success, and the visuals are just breathtaking! Goade's use of color, and her beautifully stylized forms, make it an aesthetic pleasure to page through this book. The story itself, which marks Anishinaabe author Brittany Luby's debut in the picture-book form, left me feeling somewhat conflicted. It's a 'what-if' story, imagining what a peaceful first encounter between indigenous North Americans and European explorers might have looked like. It presents an argument, through the commentary offered by the animals and other natural observers - the mosquitos observing that both men taste the same, Moon revealing that their anatomies are the same, and so on - that this sort of encounter is both natural and desirable, since both men are human beings. There is an author's afterword, which gives more of the history, as well as an explanation for the storytelling choices made. Luby writes that her story is not meant to "forgive" Jacques Cartier for the violence of his actions, but to show that "violence is a choice."
While that is certainly true, I'm not sure that the story really accomplishes what it sets out to do. I will confess that I have not studied the specifics of Cartier's first voyage to North America in any great detail, but my own understanding of many of these "first contact" stories, is that initial meetings between Native Americans and Europeans were often peaceful and friendly, with conflict usually developing later, when it became evident that European explorers weren't just visiting, but rather, wanted to claim the land and natural resources in a given area. Luby's own afterword seems to confirm this, as she mentions that relations between Cartier's sailors and the local Stadaconan people soured (quite understandably), after an initial period of friendship, when the sailors kidnapped two Stadaconan men. So it is that an encounter like the one described in the story here is not outside the realm of historical possibility, even if later developments were far less benign. The "what-if" aspect here is therefore not so much the friendly encounter itself, as Luby claims at one point, but the fact that Sailor and his ship depart, after having the encounter. But if it is indeed this point, when the two men part peacefully, that is the "what-if" moment, then why is almost all of the narrative attention given to the events that precede it? I take Luby at her word, when it comes to her intentions, but somehow the story doesn't quite work for me, in terms of doing what she says she wants it to be doing.