Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Indigenous author and culture celebrated in Ojibwe Storytime.

Indigenous author and culture celebrated in Ojibwe Storytime.

Cloquet — Allie Tibbetts, a member of the Fond du Lac Band tribe, recently had a realization when she saw a Facebook post asking people what they would be if they had followed their childhood dreams. She realized that she is living out her childhood dream of writing as she recently published her debut children’s book, “Zaagi and Misaabekwe.” The book, published by Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing in March, follows the story of a young girl named Zaagi who wants to help the adults in her community who are constantly arguing. While walking in the woods one day, Zaagi encounters a giant creature called misaabekwe, who becomes her friend and helps her find a way to bring peace to her community.

Tibbetts, who is a proud mother, a preschool teacher at Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, and a student studying education at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, finds joy in reading children’s books that resonate with both herself and the kids she reads to. She believes that being a mother has made her realize what truly matters in life, and that message is reflected in her book.

The idea for “Zaagi and Misaabekwe” came to Tibbetts when she was visiting a cemetery owned by her family in Ball Club, Itasca County. She thought about the possibility of there being something mysterious in the woods, like a Bigfoot, and decided to incorporate that into her story. She wanted to emphasize the power of using one’s voice, even when it’s scary, and she wanted to include Indigenous figures and culture in her story.

Tibbetts had to write a children’s book for her American Indian Children’s Literature class, and her teacher encouraged her to submit her story to Native-owned publishing company Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing. After a few months of editing and working with illustrator Sam Zimmerman, her book was published in March.

Tibbetts is now sharing her story with the community at the Cloquet Public Library during Ojibwe Storytime. Cloquet Public Library children’s librarian Morgan Reardon, who had the book recommended to her, saw it as an opportunity to feature a local author and highlight Ojibwe culture at library events. The first Ojibwe Storytime will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 9, and Reardon hopes to develop it into a series.

Tibbetts’ book, “Zaagi and Misaabekwe,” is available for purchase at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, on the Black Bears and Blueberries website, and on Amazon. Her second book, “Zaagi and Biboonkeonini,” will be released at the end of summer.

As Tibbetts continues her writing journey, she looks forward to the feedback from children and is excited to see how they respond to her book.


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