Review: We All Play By Julie Flett

Excited to share a lovely book from 2021 that celebrates the relationship humans and animals have to each other. A book about movement, a book about playing, a book sharing connection, and a very special book that includes some Cree words too. Check out We All Play by Julie Flett, 2021.

rabbits hopping along the grass

This book is deceptively simple on first glance. Minimal text, that is very poetic, accompanies various animals as they move and adventure – making a delightful connection to children who also love to play.

owls peeking and peering

The rhythm of the book is lovely – a repetition of three animal spreads of movement concluded by a fourth spread showing many children playing in some similar way. And these fourth spreads contain the words “We play too!” in English followed by the Cree words: “kimêtawânaw mîna.”

children frolicking through a field

The animals are varied and so fun, including ones like foxes, belugas, bobcats, and more.

a mother geese leading her many little geese

And I love the diversity of the children too! Children of many colors and features, and I even spotted a limb difference. Simple and yet great attention to thoughtfulness and detail.

children swimming and floating

While I am intensely drawn to this book due to Flett’s lovely illustrations, I also love how simple it really is and yet how complex it becomes when you encounter the Cree words. Julie Flett is Cree-Métis and has included a helpful vocabulary list and note in the back of the book that adds a whole new dimension to the rereading of the book. Though the animal pages do not include Cree, the list in the back has the animals listed in Cree including plurals and age/size. And the note discusses the Standard Roman Orthography system used for the book to translate the Cree.

a list of animals in English and Cree and a note from the author about the Cree language translation

So, approach this book first, ready to be delighted in its simplicity and beauty; a book that works for very young ages especially. But then any age can use the list of animals and the information about Cree and pronunciations to get deep into the book and the multi-layered world Flett has introduced. It is lovely and brilliant and so special to be invited in to the animal and human kinship that Flett shares is called wâhkôhtowin in Cree.

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