Monday, 26 February 2018

Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo) - Katherena Vermette

Title - Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo)
Author - Katherena Vermette


Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in a new series, A Girl Called Echo, by Governor General Award–winning writer, and author of Highwater Press’ The Seven Teaching Stories, Katherena Vermette.


ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This is going to be a shorter review than I would normally write since this is a 50 page graphic novel rather than a full 400+ page novel. In its short pages, Pemmican Wars manages to combine a series of beautiful illustrations of both past and present. Echo is a fantastic representation of feeling lost and disconnected from your past in a country that is at once both native to you and alien in landscape. A sense of not belonging and questions about whether she could truly take pride in her heritage when she knows so little about where she comes from keeps you turning the pages. It really emphasises the importance of taking an objective standpoint when teaching history so as to represent every side of war rather than just the side of the victors. This would actually be a really good tool to use to teach kids, a hard-hitting historical account but broken down from a modern perspective that they can relate to.

The graphics in this book are stunning. It transitions between the wild roaming lands of the past to modern suburban settings with ease. My only complaint about this book was that it ended far too soon - I felt like I had only just began to understand Echo before I turned the last page, and I was left with a tonne of questions that sorely needed answers. I think once all of the volumes have come out, it would work far better as an omnibus collection rather than a single issue.

Either way, it was a really good read, and I am eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Product Details
Paperback, 40 pages
Publisher: Highwater Press
Language: English
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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