by Megan Ciskowski, Associate Publicist
While writing can be a lonely process, it takes a community to make a book ready for a new audience. This was the case with Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Each step in adaptation process informed the next, building a continuity between the original text by Robin Wall Kimmerer, the new paths forged by Monique Gray Smith, and the gorgeous artwork by Nicole Neidhardt.
Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Monique Gray Smith spent hours reading the source material, listening to the plant life around her, and reworking the chapters so that a new generation of readers can deepen their ecological understanding. Then Nicole Neidhardt interpreted these chapters and expanded the world of the book with illustrations that will pull readers in. Just take a look for yourself!
Luckily for readers everywhere, Monique Gray Smith created a vlog on her YouTube Channel which provides a unique look at the process of adapting the original text. These videos culminated in a conversation between all three creators. Although they each worked on the project individually, Robin, Monique, and Nicole came together to share ideas and invited young readers to join them at the table.
Students were given the opportunity to submit questions beforehand and learn what they were most curious about. Share this video with your students to spark their creativity and curiosity in the plant life around them!
Read it Now!
A teaching guide for Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults is in progress! We look forward to sharing this free downloadable resource. Keep your eyes open and sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.
Not convinced? Read the reviews!
★”Both an urgent, essential call to action and an uplifting love letter.” –starred, Kirkus Reviews
“Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults is my new favorite book! What a great way for young people (and anyone, really) to learn about our healing medicines. Chii miigwech!”—Angeline Boulley, #1 NYT Bestselling author of Firekeeper’s Daughter
“Gray Smith’s adaptation makes this visionary exploration of Indigenous connections to the land, to plants and to storytelling and story-making accessible to a whole new readership and hopefully will inspire young people to rise to the challenges of the Climate Crisis.” –Jeffrey Canton, Children’s Book Columnist, The Globe and Mail
Connect with the creators
Robin Wall Kimmerer is an author, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her work includes Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss. She lives in upstate New York.
Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning, best-selling author and professional consultant. Her most recent novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was long listed for Canada Reads 2021. She is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish, and she lives in British Columbia, Canada.
Nicole Neidhardt is an artist and a Diné (Navajo) of Kiiyaa’áanii clan. She is the co-founder of the Innovative Young Indigenous Leaders Symposium and the co-founder of Groundswell Climate Collective. She is currently based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For more behind the scenes on the blog click here!