A GIRL CALLED ECHO is the first graphic novel in the series A Girl Called Echo. Echo Desjardins is a thirteen-year-old Metis girl in Manitoba adjusting to a new home and school. The lessons in her history class about the Pemmican Wars literally transport Echo back to those times. She visits a Metis hunting camp where she befriends a girl named Marie, follows fur-trade routes and witnesses he conflicts and resilience of her ancestors.
I love this book. The words and images are perfectly matched. Echo is, like all Native/First Nations teens, a contemporary girl and also an echo of all the generations that have come before. Here are some special moments. When Echo first meets Marie, there is a great two-page spread of Marie showing her around, the two of them bonding, until they are lying under the stars side by side. I love seeing Echo in the library, browsing the graphic novels. I like seeing her playlists (Red Hot Chili Peppers!) There is one page that goes through her school day, each panel representing a different period. Her isolation is palpable. All of these details add authenticity and draw teens intimately into the MC's world.
Echo admits to her history teacher, Mr. Bee, that she doesn't know much about being Metis. When she visits her mother in a shelter or rehab, her mom is also not very knowledgeable about heir family history--though she notes Echo's grandpa was proud of being Metis--and Echo shares with her what's she's learned so far. The scene is both heartfelt and disconnected. I'm sure that relationship will be developed more in the second book.
Mr. Bee says of Echo's English teacher, Mx. Fracois, "They're great!" So happy to see a trans/enby character normalized in a setting teaching youth. Mx. Francois' bowtie rocks! Not as excited about Echo's disabled foster sibling. I think it's less progressive and successful representation.
I am so excited about future volumes in this series. Book Two, RED RIVER RESISTANCE, will be published by HighWater Press on March 1, 2019. I wish I had this book growing up. Highly recommended to all readers! The back matter gives more information about the Pemmican Wars. It made me daydream about skipping back in time to the Seminole Wars.
Shonabish to writer Katherena Vermette, illustrator Scott B. Henderson and color artist Donovan Yaciuk!!!! And to HighWater Press. Did you know that Indigenous comics are a big deal? Check out this link to Native Realities.