A Girl Called Echo Volume 1: Pemmican Wars
Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: HighWater Press
Synopsis on Goodreads:
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.
PEMMICAN WARS is the first graphic novel in the A GIRL CALLED ECHO series by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk. Echo, a young Métis girl, finds herself slipping back in time as she learns about the Pemmican Wars in school (1812-1821, Saskatchewan). The incredible artwork tells Echo’s story; a young teen struggling with her own identity and culture, and adjusting to a new school with a foster family. Traveling to the past allows Echo to learn about her family and culture in her own unique way. There are not a lot of words, even for a graphic novel, which has the reader focusing on the artwork instead. PEMMICAN WARS is such an important book and should be picked up by everyone.
As I said, there are not a lot of words (even for a graphic novel), which originally took me by surprise. I don’t read graphic novels very often, so I was going in with a certain expectation of word count. However, I did like that this made you focus on the illustrations. If you wanted to understand the story, you needed to see what Echo was doing. This did lead to confusion a few times. I was unsure how often Echo traveled back in time and whether she was more of an observer or a main player. I think having a few more words would’ve prevented this. Reading the graphic novel’s synopsis before the book itself prevented some confusion, but I don’t consider that a good thing. A reader shouldn’t be relying on the synopsis to understand the book.
I immediately connected with Echo and her struggle with loneliness. I was a really lonely person in high school, even while surrounded by “friends” and I think Echo will help a lot of young readers. I loved that she was always on her iPod, music seemed to be one of the few things Echo was interested in, at least before her trips to the past. I really want to listen to Echo’s playlist.
PEMMICAN WARS was really short and I think this also caused some of the confusion I had. Echo’s story needed to be told in 50 or so pages. I’m not sure if this was done on purpose or shortened due to cost (this sometimes happens in the publishing industry). Future instalments in this series could be longer, if PEMMICAN WARS does really well.
I also liked that a minor character, a teacher, was referred to as Mx rather than Miss/Ms/Mr. I think it’s really important for readers to see this, even if it doesn’t directly relate back to the plot.
PEMMICAN WARS is an important, OwnVoices book that needs to be in our schools, libraries, and homes. The artwork was so incredibly gorgeous and I wish I had read the physical copy instead of the ebook, to view PEMMICAN WARS in all its glory. Please consider picking up this fabulous series by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk. I am avidly awaiting the next instalment, RED RIVER RESISTANCE.