Flashback Friday: The First Blade of Sweetgrass

For today’s Flashback Friday, I want to share The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story by Suzanne Greenlaw, Gabriel Frey, and Nancy Baker with you all. Written by a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a citizen of the Passamaquoddy Nation, this stunning picture book focuses on a resource that is vital to the Wabanaki and other First Nations peoples across the continent.

Title: The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story
Authors: Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey
Illustrator: Nancy Baker
Published: August 10, 2021
Publisher: Tillbury House Publishers
Format: Picture Books

Following a young girl named Musqon as she learns to harvest sweetgrass with her grandmother, The First Blade of Sweetgrass tells a timeless story of culture and traditions being passed down through generations. Musqon’s grandmother is patient with her as she struggles to identify the sweetgrass in the beginning. But as Musqon spends more time in the salt marsh, she finally gets the hang of harvesting. The First Blade of Sweetgrass is a great selection to teach young readers the power of perseverance.

The illustrations by Nancy Baker are stunning. The landscapes capture the tranquility of nature and transports the reader to the salt marsh.

The First Blade of Sweetgrass also contains an Author’s Note in the back matter with more detail around sweetgrass and its many uses, as well as a glossary of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words, making it a fantastic resource for school libraries and classrooms.

You can find The First Blade of Sweetgrass wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Tillbury House Publishers for providing me with a review copy of this stunning book!

About The Authors:

Suzanne Greenlaw (Orono, ME) is Maliseet and a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. A PhD candidate in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, she works to restore Wabanaki stewardship practices across various land tenure systems throughout Maine.

Gabriel Frey (Orono, ME) is Passamaquoddy and a citizen of Passamaquoddy at Sipayik. He is an awarded-winning basket maker, artist, and cultural knowledge keeper. His mother and Suzanne and Gabriel’s two daughters, Musqon and Alamossit, helped inspire The First Blade of Sweetgrass.

About The Illustrator:

Nancy Baker (Thomaston, ME) is a Maine artist, illustrator, and muralist whose landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works in oils and pastels are represented by Mars Hall Gallery in Tenants Harbor, Maine. While visiting the sweetgrass meadows of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park with Suzanne and Gabriel, authors of The First Blade of Sweetgrass, Nancy learned the ecology and cultural importance of sweetgrass and witnessed the majesty of the landscape in which it grows, qualities that she has worked to convey in her illustrations.

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