The Red Sash is the story of a young Metis boy who lives near the fur trading post of Fort William, on Lake Superior, nearly 200 years ago. His father spends the long winter months as a guide, leading voyageurs into the northwest to trade with native people for furs. Now it is Rendezvous, when the voyageurs paddle back to Fort William with their packs of furs, and North West Company canoes come from Montreal bringing supplies for the next season. It is a time of feasting and dancing and of voyageurs trading stories around the campfire.
With preparations underway for a feast in the Great Hall, the boy canoes to a nearby island to hunt hare. But once there, a storm begins to brew. As the waves churn to foam, a canoe carrying a gentleman from the North West Company appears, heading toward the island for shelter. The boy helps land the canoe, which has been torn by rocks and waves. Then he saves the day as he paddles the gentleman across to Fort William in his own canoe, earning the gift of a voyageur's red sash.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)
Jean E. Pendziwol has published several highly acclaimed picture books, including Me and You and the Red Canoe, illustrated by Phil; and Once Upon a Northern Night, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Jean’s debut adult novel, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters, was published in more than ten languages. Jean finds inspiration in the rich history, culture and geography of Northwestern Ontario, where she lives with a view of Lake Superior.
Nicolas Debon was born in Northern France and later moved to Nancy where he studied art at l'Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts before moving to Toronto for ten years. His picture book The Strongest Man in the World won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Nicolas currently lives in France.
Pendziwol gives just enough detail for a real sense of this long-ago way of life....nicely abetted by Debon's gouache and mixed-media spreads.
The Red Sash is...a welcome curriculum resource...
Debon's wonderful bold gouache and mixed-media paintings...captivate with their detail of fort life, their freshness perfectly attuned to this tale's tone.