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My latest Labour Day weekend was filled with an eclectic group of activities and people.

It started with art and followed by an impromptu picnic in a downtown Toronto Park. We saw family and friends we didn’t expect to see this weekend and tasted epicurean delights that created wonderful taste sensations in the mouth and in the psyche.

I love the eclectic and like to fancy myself as a purveyor of diverse tastes and interests so I love compilation books for kids (yes I was also a big fan of the mixed tape with scotch tape strategically placed on each end to tape again and again!)

So when I happened upon Learn & Play with First Nations & Native Art (ISBN: 9781554761814) by Native Elements (an imprint of Native Northwest), 2010, I almost had a multifarious conniption!

As a lover of Native art, I was struck by the gorgeous images introducing themes of playing, shapes, counting, matching and logic in this board book.

It’s a stunner with its beautifully laid-out images by a whole host of contemporary Native artists (there is really no way to name them all during this brief repose I have to write during naptime!) from Ojibway to Haida and from Cree to Coast Salish. I love the use of modern colours and lots of animal images (the kids love those!)

Native Northwest, has been working exclusively with native artists to make apparel and household objects for 20 years and from many requests from early child centers and educators for First Nations books and related material they realized that there was a gap and felt compelled to take this on with passion.

Owner Larry Garfinkel has said “Our social purpose has evolved into providing First Nations children with reading and learning materials that are culturally connected and affirming. We also would like to enhance non-First Nations children to learn about the rich culture that thrives around them.”

This book is like new Angelina Jolie….striking, smart and hip on the outside but with a whole host of moral do-goodness wrapped up in the inside (let’s just leave the husband-stealing and children-collecting aside for now shall we?) Not only is this series including other titles such as Learn the Alphabet, Learn the Colours and Learn to Count exposing children to First Nations art and culture, partial proceeds of this book are earmarked for aboriginal early development and support Canadian artists AND the book itself is printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based ink and water-based coating!

Really and truly it doesn’t get much better than this!



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