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Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
Monique Gray Smith By (author)
Nicole Neidhardt Illustrated by
Coming Soon
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Coming Soon
Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.3 in
304 pg

YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION / People & Places / Aboriginal & Indigenous
YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION / Science & Nature / Botany
YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION / Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage


Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.


"An Indigenous botanist offers powerful guidance and inspiration for a sustainable—and sustaining—future in this young readers' adaptation of her 2015 adult bestseller.
Sweetgrass—its planting, tending, picking, braiding, and burning—forms the organizing structure for this work in which scientific discovery and traditional wisdom form a harmonious, interconnected whole. Sweetgrass is important to many Indigenous nations as well as a potent example of the limitations of traditional Western notions of people existing in opposition to the natural world, as evidenced by the fascinating results of the graduate research project Kimmerer (Potawatomi) oversaw. Rather than humans' presence inherently threatening nonhuman living beings, the Indigenous worldview persuasively and vividly offered is one in which we live by the guiding principles of the Honorable Harvest, enumerated here as: never take the first, ask permission, listen for the answer, take only what you need, minimize harm, use everything you take, share, be grateful, and reciprocate the gift. Smith (Cree, Lakota) skillfully adapts the original, including text boxes with definitions, thoughtful prompts for reflection and discussion, and pithy quotes featured within exquisite images of a circle of braided sweetgrass by illustrator Neidhardt (Diné). Additional art beautifully enhances teachings and tales from many nations, personal reminiscences, fascinating natural history, and other enriching content. Readers will feel as if they are in conversation with a caring, respected expert guide who offers a hopeful, nourishing vision.
Both an urgent, essential call to action and an uplifting love letter." –starred, Kirkus Reviews

"Just as the original Braiding Sweetgrass offers a lifeline back to Indigenous teachings, this adaptation augments these stories with exquisite visuals such as Skywoman Falling and the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address as an epic gathering of all beings, and it wraps key concepts and questions within a braid of sweetgrass. This beautiful, imaginative revisioning is a gift to our children that teaches them how to follow the path of our ancestors."—Diane Wilson, author of The Seed KeeperOther Print

"Monique Gray Smith has exquisitely captured the tone of Robin Wall Kimmerer's voice in this masterful adaptation for young readers of Braiding Sweetgrass. It has all the power, poetry and passion of the adult edition but there is a delightful intimacy that will make YA readers feel as if Kimmerer is holding an intimate conversation with them about Indigenous knowledge and it's connection to the well-being of the planet. Gray Smith's adaptation makes this visionary exploration of Indigenous connections to the land, to plants and to storytelling and story-making accessible to a whole new readership and hopefully will inspire young people to rise to the challenges of the Climate Crisis." –Jeffrey Canton, Children's Book Columnist, The Globe and MailOther Print

"What an open-armed invitation for youth to enter into relationship with the ideas, the stories and the teachings from Robin Wall Kimmerer's phenomenal and deserved bestseller Braiding Sweetgrass! This adaptation by Monique Gray Smith, the renowned and beloved writer for children and young adults, allows young readers to take into their lives the offerings and guidance of Robin's stories, no matter what their experience is, no matter where they come from, no matter who they are. In language that respects the love for all living things that young people are born with, accompanied by powerful illustrations that are works of heart, this book is itself a beautiful braid of three women, dare I say Three Sisters--Robin Wall Kimmerer, Monique Gray Smith and Nicole Neidhardt, brilliant storytellers, story-tenders and storykeepers.

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults is a book to grow up with and grow into. It is both medicine and a loud and urgent call to honour the gifts of the earth and the responsibility to give gifts to the earth in return. Imagine growing up guided by the questions "How can we make our relations with the world sacred again?" and "What will your offering be?" This book will plant a garden in young hearts and then, oh, what a world!"—Shelagh Rogers, OC, host and producer of CBC Radio One's The Next Chapter, and former chancellor of the University of VictoriaOther Print

"Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults is my new favorite book! What a great way for young people (and anyone, really) to learn about our healing medicines. So many teachings within the pages. I love the mix of photos, illustrations, and text boxes filled with reflective questions and translations. I will be purchasing boxes of this incredible book to share with loved ones! Chii miigwech!"—Angeline Boulley, #1 NYT Bestselling author of Firekeeper's DaughterOther Print

Author Bio

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her first book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. Her writings have appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
Monique Gray Smith is an award winning, bestselling author, and professional consultant. She has written eight books including Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation, My Heart Fills with Happiness, You Hold Me Up, Lucy and Lola, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, and When We Are Kind. Monique's most recent novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights, was long listed for Canada Reads 2021. Monique is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish. She lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her teenage twins.
Nicole Neidhardt is a Diné (Navajo) artist of Kiiyaa'áanii clan. She received her MFA from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario, and a bachelor of fine arts with a business minor from the University of Victoria. She is the cofounder of the Innovative Young Indigenous Leaders Symposium, alongside Gina Mowatt, and is the cofounder of Groundswell Climate Collective, a group that is fighting the climate crisis through resiliency and artwork. She currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.