Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day 2022

Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day 2022

Posted by Second Story Press on

Two Spirit is a relatively new term, but Two-Spirit people have been around for forever, and it was considered a great thing to embody both male and female spirits, and I think it still is. 
— Phoenix Wilson
On this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day we want to celebrate a wonderful new work of Indigenous Children’s Literature, Phoenix Gets Greater, written by Marty Wilson-Trudeau with Phoenix Wilson, and illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith. It explores the bonds of family and the importance of giving children the freedom to be who they really want to be. Readers will follow along as the main character, a young boy named Phoenix, learns more about what it means to be Two Spirit/Niizh Manidoowag in his Anishinaabe culture. Writers Marty and Phoenix, mother and son, based the story on their own family relationship and Phoenix’s childhood experiences. Keep reading for an interview with Phoenix Wilson.

 

A page from Phoenix Gets Greater by Marty Wilson-Trudeau and Phoenix Wilson, illustrated by Megan Kyak Monteith

A page from Phoenix Gets Greater by Marty Wilson-Trudeau and Phoenix Wilson, illustrated by Megan Kyak Monteith

 

Broaching the vast topic of Two-Spirit identities, Marty Wilson-Trudeau and Phoenix Wilson have made a book I wish I had when I was a kid—the wonders this book will do for our Indigenous and/or queer youth!

—Joshua Whitehead, award-winning author of Jonny Appleseed

An Interview with Phoenix Wilson:

How was the collaboration process working on the book together with your mom? Could you tell us about it?

It was great. My mom told me she had an idea, and we sat and discussed what we thought the book could look like and the base idea. When my mom started writing, she gave me two versions of the rough copy, and then we worked together on the final version.

What inspired you to write Phoenix Gets Greater?

We wanted to write about my experiences and how my family and culture played a huge role in my life. I wanted to tell my story so other children would have an understanding, and that might help someone else too.

Why did you decide to write this book as a picture book rather than a book for older readers?

I wanted young readers to understand how important it is to be yourself and foster an understanding and acceptance for others. Acceptance of oneself and others starts at an early age.

The book discusses Two-Spirit identity or niizh manidoowag. Can you tell us about that?

Two Spirit is a relatively new term, but Two-Spirit people have been around for forever, and it was considered a great thing to embody both male and female spirits, and I think it still is.

Dancing is a major part of the book. Can you tell us a bit about why you love it so much, Phoenix?

I love dancing, especially ballet and contemporary. When I dance, I forget about my problems, my inhibitions, and math! I feel free and I love the way the music inspires me to move.

What are some books that inspired you while writing Phoenix Gets Greater?

My mom used to read a lot of Robert Munsch books to me when I was young, and my favourite was Love You Forever and its sense of family. I also loved the “David” books by David Shannon, and again, no matter what David did, his mom loved him.

Any more books in the future for you two?

I would love to write another book with my mom, but maybe a novel for older readers.

During Indigenous History Month, is there anything you’d like to recommend to people?

Educate yourself and learn about Indigenous history, go to a Pow Wow, eat some Bannock, listen to our stories, and read Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead.

 

Pre-order Phoenix Gets Greater now!

The cover for Phoenix Gets Greater

 

 

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