Beautiful Books: Amik
Potowatomi educator and Juno-nominated artist Sharon King's recently released new picture book Amik (Kegedonce Press) tells the story of Amik, the beaver, who works on his dam throughout the day while nature and the activities of other animals carry on around him. In this edition of Beautiful Books, Sharon discusses how her inspiration for Amik originally came from the idea to create something that illustrated the idea of everything living coexisting.See more details below
Amik is a children’s picture board book by Potowatomi educator and Juno-nominated artist Sharon King. The story is about a beaver, Amik in the Ojibwe language, who continually works throughout the day building a dam. The story intertwines other animals and events that occur in any forest. As the day progresses the beaver continues his work then returns to his den at the end of the day. The ending provides the common value of family and being together. Amik’s story is told in both Anishinaabemowin and English, making it an educational book for children and families as well.
Amik’s story is about the environment, and how all living things coexist in unity. As Amik works, he is surrounded by nature and responsibilities of other animals and little beings. The illustrations are done with cut-paper collage, including the use of coloured tissue paper, which gives the illustrations an interesting texture and some transparency.
We asked Sharon to tell us about her inspirations for Amik. She writes:
The inspiration for the book initially came from an idea as an educator to create something that illustrated the idea of everything living coexisting. I remember as a family we would go for walks in the fall and spring; basically it was day hiking and we would bring lunch and set up a little camp near a portage. And often times we would witness a beaver family building and constantly moving. This was a regular thing I remember growing up. And it was a positive memory about being in the natural environment and enjoying the day together as a family.
The use of the materials [for the book] was inspired by the use of tissue paper to create the illustrations while I was working for an arts company in Toronto.
The characters in each illustration were chosen specifically because of a connection. For example, the illustration with the leaves represents the fall, usually when the leaves turn colour. That was when we would typically go on these family hikes, every year. The birds are representative of the clan that I am part of, and the bear is representative of my mother’s clan. The mouse that runs across the dam is representative in our culture of determination and perseverance. The spider is a significant creature from my own experience and has continually played a role in my life, even to this day.
Images from Amik
Amik is now available from Kegedonce Press.
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Sharon King is an educator, performer and producer. Most recently she has worked at a community level as a educator in Wasauksing First Nation. She is best known for her Juno nomination in 1999 (Aboriginal Women's Voices, Hearts of the the Nation). She has produced community arts programs, and her travels has helped with a strong connection to artists, filmmakers, and producers in Canada. Her strong hold on Indigenous culture and singing has maintained her efforts in her keeping tradition present with her family and community.
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