What's in a Bead?

By Kelsey Borgford

Illustrated By Tessa Pizzale

$21.95 Sale Save

There are many stories in a bead. We must listen to the stories they tell us.

Tessa loves how her grandmother always smells of campfire stories. Mom says it’s because Kohkom spends her days sewing beautiful beads onto smoked hides. Inspired, Tessa asks Kohkom to teach her beading, but first she must listen and learn about the many stories held in a bead. A celebration of Cree craftsmanship, language, and learning. The loving exchange of knowledge between Tessa and her Kohkom will be familiar to many children. Readers will learn that different Indigenous communities have different beadwork techniques, and that this traditional art form is alive and thriving today.

Praise & Recognition

"A delicate tribute to beading and storytelling, connecting the past, present, and future of Native communities." Kirkus

"Delight beckons from the cover to the last page of What’s in a Bead?. Rich in visual details and told from the perspective of Tessa, a First Nations girl (Cree), What’s in a Bead? documents educational, social, and cultural practices of beading in her family and community. It contains colour-rich, carefully rendered visual images, beaded objects, and ceremonies related to beading.... Recommended."

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"Culture is at the core of everything Kelsey Borgford creates."


"A colourful new book will have children reading about close family relationships, the art of beading in different Indigenous communities, and Cree artisanship and language. Aimed at six to eight-year old children, the story is told from the viewpoint of the main character Tessa who loves and learns from her kokum."

Anishinabek News

Second Story Press Indigenous Writing Contest 2021 - Runner-up


Publication Date: March 12, 2024

Reading Age: 6 - 8

Genre: Picture Book

Product Format: Hardback

Pages: 24

ISBN: 978-1-77260-366-8

About the Author

Kelsey Borgford

Kelsey Borgford is Nbisiing Nishnaabe, and resides in her traditional territory of Nipissing First Nation. She is from the marten clan, and Couchie family. Kelsey is constantly seeking to become educated, and educate about the culture. In all she does, her own Nokomis-baa is central to her story.

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About the Illustrator

Tessa Pizzale

Tessa Pizzale grew up in North Bay, Ontario. Her Cree relatives are from Moose Factory, Fort Albany, and Peawanuck. She is completing her BFA at Nipissing University. Tessa loves Indigenous crafts and is grateful to her late Kookum for teaching her beading and her Nikawiy for teaching her to sew.

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