Review of We All Play

We All Play
by Julie Flett; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greystone Kids    40 pp.    g
5/21    978-1-77164-607-9    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-1-77164-608-6    $17.99

In Flett’s lively and beautifully illustrated story, animals engage in all sorts of playful behaviors, on land and in the water. Each spread depicts one or two species, with two action verbs describing their actions. Bunnies and grasshoppers “hide and hop.” Owls “peek and peep.” Belugas “swim and squirt.” Interspersed spreads depict a group of children who, likewise, run, swim, climb, and sled, declaring, “We play too! kimêtawânaw mîna.” But all that activity can be tiring, and when the animals snuggle up outside and rest together, the children do also. With only four or five words on most of the spreads, the text is spare, lilting, and sensory, emphasizing action. The pictures are similarly simple and playful, with plenty of space warmly surrounding the figures. A bold, dynamic page design and vibrant textures enhance the images, and the children’s gorgeous skin tones range from deep copper-brown to beige. The back matter includes a list of animal names in English and in Cree, a pronunciation guide to Cree words, and a thoughtful author’s note about human play and the connectedness of people, animals, and nature.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen

An educator and a senior editor at Barefoot Books, Autumn Allen is the author of All You Have to Do (Kokila/Penguin, 2023). She holds an MA-MFA in children's literature and writing for children from Simmons University, and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She was the 2020-2021 Writer in Residence at the Boston Public Library.

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