Cover Image: Swift Fox All Along

Swift Fox All Along

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Member Reviews

Picture books are a great way to get a glimpse of daily life in another culture. They help young kids understand differences, to be certain, but also to learn universal lessons. Yes, Thomas is showing readers that within a tribe, ties extend beyond blood, proximity, or even shared experiences. Larger things link these characters. Everything else can be learned.
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One of the results of colonization is loss of culture. In Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Lea Thomas and Maya McKibbon, Swift Fox experiences her first taste of being Mi’kmaq. Her father takes her to visit aunties and uncles and tells her she is Mi’kmaq through and through but she doesn’t feel it. Filled with anxiety she doesn’t know what to do and how to act when she arrives. When another cousin, Sully, arrives and he also doesn’t know what it is to be Mi’kmaq she realizes that she is there to learn and to teach.

Based on the author’s own experience, Swift Fox All Along is a powerful story of tradition and reclamation. Her father knows she needs to be immersed in her culture, the traditions and history, to discover herself as a strong Mi’kmaq woman. 

This story doesn’t focus on the trauma narrative of colonization, rather the reclamation of culture, language and traditions and finding strength in the history of your family.

The illustrations by Maya McKibbon are warm and inviting just like the aunties and the uncles in the story. Striking in the space they occupy, filling each page with colour and life. The illustrations really bring Swift Fox’s emotions into focus.
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An important book about belonging and how family is always in your heart even with differences. There is always a commonality to link you to them. The art is beautiful and the message, while universal, for Native children is wonderful and important,
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Swift Fox All Along is exactly the kind of story that children and their families need to read, no matter what community you come from. This is a story about complex identities, struggling to feel accepted or a sense of belonging, the effect of boarding schools and being separated from one’s culture, and the power of family and ceremony yo help us feel connected not only to our communities and families but also to ourselves. 

The title itself is powerful: it tells us that our protagonist, Swift Fox, has been Swift Fox all along, even if it took her a little while to be introduced to the culture her Mi’kmaq father comes from. She has her complex identities within her and she can connect with those identities, cultures, and her family if she can be brave enough to put herself in a situation that makes her feel nervous and out of place. Her family gives her space and time to process all of the new people she’s meeting and experiences she’s encountering until Swift Fox is finally ready to participating in a smudging ceremony. 

The whole book is just beautiful. The fact that there is smudging depicted here is also very important, since this particular element of some Indigenous cultures continues to be fetishized, commercialized, and commodified by non-Indigenous people. Rebecca Thomas gives us a glimpse of how sacred these ceremonies are and reminds each of us to remember where we came from, even if circumstances beyond our control or our ancestors’ control have made us feel removed from those identities. 

The author’s note at the end of the book helped to round out just how meaningful Swift Fox All Along will be for Indigenous readers. I’d urge non-Indigenous readers to remember that, while we are welcome to enjoy and share and reflect on these stories, they are not written for us but for own-voices readers and families who are represented within them. If we have questions about any culturally specific traditions or customs, it is usually quite easy to do a little research so we can come into the book with a little more perspective and a more appropriate lens. 

I think Rebecca Thomas has created a beautiful, poignant, powerful story that will resonate not just with the Mi’kmaq and other Native readers but also with non-Native readers who are lucky enough to get a glimpse into Swift Fox and her family’s life. I’m grateful to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book and am truly looking forward to adding this to my collection when it’s released.
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Swift Fox All Along is a very cute and sweet look at connecting with culture. My children really loved the illustrations.
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This story is based on the author’s life as a young girl.

Swift Fox’s parents are separated. Usually when she sees her father, they go for ice cream or to the park. Today is special. He is taking her to meet his Mi’kmaq family for the first time. I’m sure many readers will be able to empathize with her anxiety around this as ‘her belly fills with butterflies’ to be meeting new people.

Her father tries to calm her down by telling her that being Mi’kmaq is who she is and what’s inside of her. It doesn’t help. In fact, the butterflies get worse.

When they arrive she is ushered into the house where there are many people to greet her. While they are all friendly and supportive, her anxiety doesn’t abate.

It gets worse when they are about to smudge and she is expected to know what to do. She runs out of the house and hides under a porch.

Eventually she smells her dad’s fry bread and sees another cousin arrive. It’s his first time meeting his relatives and he is also reluctant to go inside. The two cousins connect and go in to the house together.

This time Swift Fox’s dad shows her what to do with the braid of sweetgrass so that she can participate in the smudging ceremony.

I had a bit of trouble with the father and family pushing Red Fox and not being more supportive and understanding. People of any age need to see or be shown something before they can know what to do. Thankfully, the family did end up teaching her what to do and from this she came to find it inside herself. This book provides a great opportunity for a discussion of culture – what it means and how we become part of one.

Maya McKibbin’s art is appealing. I like how she shows emotions in her characters. I wanted to know more about how she created these illustrations, and while I never did figure that out, I did get happily sidetracked into watching her brilliant short films. You can find them here. http://www.mkchibs.com/projects/
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Swoft fox was nervous to meet her family for the first time. She was afraid she wouldn't know how to be like them, but she gradually grew comfortable in the new home. The book is good, and let's readers explore a new to them culture. I did feel like a page or two may have been missing from the advance copy. I also would have liked the story to be a little longer.
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This is a very touching story. I am unsure, everyone has some part of them that they hide to fit in the globalized world. Like Swift Fox in this story, we just need a nudge to maintain connection with our ancestry and collective heritage.
The illustrations are done with great details and life. It had almost cartoon like animated life in the smiles of the characters. I cannot imagine pulling off a face with a wide smile.
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"Swift Fox All Along" is a children's book by Rebecca Lea Thomas. The story highlights the life of a young Native American girl who is living with her mother off reservation. When she becomes old enough, her father picks her up and takes her to introduce her to his side of the family and their culture. Swift Fox is scared at first and nervous to meet her new family. Will they like her? Will she like them?

This book was a great way to highlight what it means to be an outsider and learning about a new culture. The beginning of the story jumped right in but I would have liked a little more of an introduction. I really enjoyed learning about a different culture through the story though and my kids liked it as well. The illustrations weren't my favorite, but the book's sentiment was meaningful and well written.
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What do you do when you were not raised on the reserve, when you have no connecction with the people of your people.  You don't know how to be Mi’kmaq because you have not learned any of their waves.  

That is the problem with Swift Fox.  She was not raised amongst her people, just the way her father wasn't, but his excuse was he was sent off to residency school.

Swift fox is scared that she won't know what to do, and yet, there are familiar smells, such as fry bread, which she loves.  Perhaps the people she is being introduced to are not so strange, after all.  

It is hard when you feel like an outsider in the very group that you want to be part of.  This is an excellent children's book showing what that is like, and how you can feel both at home, and alien amongst all your relatives and people.


Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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