Review by Verena Rodriguez
Tundra, Penguin Random House, 1 October 2019
40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-581-3
Ages 3-7, Grades Pre K-3
Encounter reimagines the first meeting between an Indigenous Stadaconan fisher and a French sailor in 1534. Inspired by Jacques Cartier’s notes on his first expedition to what is now Gaspé Bay, Quebec, the story begins when Fisher and Sailor set out in their boats, welcoming a new day. They meet in the bay and, surprised by each other’s presence, decide to pull their boats inland to introduce themselves. The rest of the day goes by as they share different activities. When nighttime arrives, they say goodbye. Fisher goes to sleep next to a fire by his canoe and sailor rows back to his ship in the sea. The author and illustrator wanted to portray how two different cultures can meet in peace and respect each other’s customs. The highly saturated watercolor illustrations show a colorful land full of life, which at times seems a bit too tropical for its geographic location. Despite this, Goade pays great attention to detail of flora and fauna. The seagull, the sun, and the mosquito all participate as active characters by giving their opinion about the two friends, showing that mother nature finds the fisher and sailor equal. Lastly, Luby includes an author’s historical note that explains more about how this moment in history. Encounter explains that “any of us could be like sailor” and that we all have the option to treat each other with respect and peace. The lyrical rhythm of the text makes this picture book work well as a bedtime lullaby, but it could also work in the classroom. If read to kids along with other First Nation stories, or as a comparison to the story of Pocahontas, it could bring up interesting questions.
Verena recently graduated from the MA in Children’s Literature at UBC. Before that she did a BA in Visual Communication at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). She specialized in illustration and has been working as a graphic designer since 2014. She also works as a freelance illustrator for children’s books and textbooks and occasionally does animation projects.