Picture Book Review: My Day with Qeengish by Nichole Vasquez-Sutter

A little girl in a t-shirt and shorts offers an acorn to a little gray squirrel. The little girl has dark hair pulled back into a braid. She is smiling at her friend. The squirrel is also looking up at the girl as he holds more acorns. Between them is a basket full of acorns. They stand in a meadow with grass and small yellow flowers.
Image description: A little girl in a t-shirt and shorts offers an acorn to a little gray squirrel. The little girl has dark hair pulled back into a braid. She is smiling at her friend. The squirrel is also looking up at the girl as he holds more acorns. Between them is a basket full of acorns. They stand in a meadow with grass and small yellow flowers.

My Day with Qeengish (Qéengish No’ó’nan) by Nichole Vasquez-Sutter, illustrated by Arthur Lin

From Google Books: A story of a girl’s day spent at the whim of her friend, Qeengish, the squirrel. This book is written in both English and Luiseno.

This is a perfect little Fall book for young readers. The story is sweet and short with brief sentences on each page. The illustrations are absolutely adorable (look at the little girl and squirrel gazing at each other on the cover!). It would be hard not to love this gentle book.

The story is very simple, the little girl heads out with her squirrel friend to collect acorns. Through the day they go about a variety of traditional Luiseno activities including playing a game with some human friends and making acorn porridge. It’s exactly the kind of book we see listed on seasonally themed booklists for Fall in preschools and libraries. It is also an #ownvoices book and the tribal/national specificity is the kind of criteria librarians, teachers, and parents must be looking for in their collections and materials.

There have been a lot of efforts in recent years, but stretching back to the 1970s to revive the nearly lost and sleeping indigenous languages of many native tribes and nations. California is particularly dense with indigenous people, cultures, and languages. It’s beautiful to see books published with these languages. I know one of the tribes local to me just published a book in their Nisenan dialect and I am excitedly waiting to get a copy to review (soon! it’s not available to the public yet). My Friend Qeengish is bilingual with English and Luiseno. Even if you don’t speak word of it, showing your child or students that this is one of the many original languages of the place we now call California can be a powerful learning experience. And for kids who are native it can be a powerful recognition of their presence.

I highly recommend supporting this author and this book. My Friend Qeengish would make a perfect addition to Fall book bins, school library shelves, preschool and daycare classrooms, and home libraries. If you’re looking for more stories and books to share with younger kids around Indigenous People’s Day and Native American Heritage month, this is the perfect addition.

Purchase the book here (not affiliate links). Please, in this uncertain time, if at all possible, purchase from an independent/local bookstore. They need our help right now.

Please note, if you want to search for the book to purchase it you will need to use the title in parentheses above.

Final note: If you do purchase this book, please post a review of it on Amazon. This will help other folks find the book and know that it’s worth purchasing. If you use any other book services like GoodReads or your local library’s online catalog be sure to post a review there too! And if your local library doesn’t have a copy, request that they purchase one.

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