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. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.
In this young readers adaptation of the 2013 adult bestseller of the same name by Potawatomi botanist Kimmerer, Smith (I Hope), who is Cree and Lakota, breaks down myriad Indigenous nations' relationships with nature. The creators detail how humankind's reciprocity with the earth is integral to many Native peoples' mindsets and often stems from a gifting economy, in which plants and animals make a gift of themselves and humans, in turn, care for them. This is the foundation of the Honorable Harvest, the narrative's key concept and a core Native practice that "governs our taking, shapes our relationships with the natural world, and reins in our tendency to consume." These guidelines also encourage sustainability in hunting and gathering etiquette, and in further developing clean energy procedures. Smith smartly streamlines language while staying true to the narrative's core concepts by adding brief sidebars that explain featured terminology, pose reflection questions, and highlight important passages, inviting collaborative discussion and acting as a call to action. Crisp pen and ink wash illustrations by Navajo artist Neidhardt (When We Are Kind) provide visual interest; by depicting Skywoman's creation in comics spreads, Neidhardt both complements and elevates Smith's approachable prose. Ages 12–up.