The Water Walker

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Nokomis – our grandmothers – walk to protect our water, and to protect all of us.

The story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine-ba Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine-ba invites us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.

Praise & Recognition

"An important topic is treated with grace, love, and a smidgen of humor in this delightful, necessary book."

Kirkus Reviews

"... a worthwhile addition to classroom and public libraries and a resource for discussions about First Nations and ecology."

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"... like so many titles about Indigenous topics finally earning shelf space in Canadian libraries and bookshops, The Water Walker has just as much to teach parents as the children... Joanne Robertson succeeds in answering with her words and her art the same question that Nokomis Josephine answered with her footsteps: 'What are you going to do about it?'"

Anishinabek News

"Josephine Mandamin has inspired countless adults to care passionately about protecting the waters of the earth. Now through Joanne Robertson's magical book, Josephine will inspire children to know they can change the world."

Canadian Children's Book News

"Joanne Roberston reconstructs Josephine's remarkable story with simple prose and colourful illustrations that will appeal to young readers."

Resource Links

"The Water Walker is a wonderful book about conservation, environmentalism, and preservation, written in a way that even the youngest audience can understand why Nibi is important and why we should protect Nibi.... The book has the potential to be a highly interactive book around which science lesson plans could be formed. Students can discuss how they are protecting Nibi, they can write letters to Nokomis, and there can be discussion around the ways they can create change in the world, just as Nokomis did."

American Indians in Children's Literature

"It is the epitome of #OwnVoices.... Robertson turned Mandamin's work into an engaging story that invites children to learn about her activism.... The Water Walker is an extraordinary book."

Midwest Book Review

"With a message that is both timely and timeless, The Water Walker... will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections."

Kutztown Review

"[The author’s] artwork in this picture book is colorful and accessible for readers, and she gives readers a solid inspirational story on a critical topic while even adding in a bit of humor…This book would be a good addition to a school or public library, and it would also be a good addition to text sets or lessons about conservation efforts or natural resources or Native Americans."

Professionally Speaking

"The simple text and colourful pictures are the perfect medium to convey the urgency of the Water Walkers' initiative. Teachers and students can use [the] story to park and ignite their own activism around water protection."

First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award - Children’s Category 2018 - Winner

Indigenous Voices Awards 2018 - Short-listed

"Great Lakes, Great Read" Children's Selection 2024 - Winner

AICL's Best Books of 2017 - American Indians in Children's Literature 2017 - Commended

2018 (Spring) - Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018 - Commended

Recommended by White Plains Library for Native American Heritage Month (US) 2020


Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Reading Age: 6 - 8

Reading Level: P

Genre: Picture Book, Children's Nonfiction

Product Format: Hardback

Pages: 36

ISBN: 978-1-77260-038-4

Weight: 296

Joanne Robertson

About the Author

Joanne Robertson

Joanne Robertson is AnishinaabeKwe and a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (White Fish First Nation) in Ontario. She continues to help water walkers through live GPS spotting to make sure they are safe on their journeys.
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