FLETT, Julie

Author Tags: Illustration

Cree-Métis illustrator Julie Flett of Vancouver, formerly of Penticton, is easily one of the most successful book illustrators in B.C. that you've never heard of.

In 2017, an award that stresses the role of the illustrator, the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, was presented to author Monique Gray Smith—who contributed 71 words of text—and illustrator Julie Flett for their collaboration on My Heart Fills With Happiness (Orca). Both appeared on stage but Gray Smith did all the talking. No mention was made of the fact that it was Flett's third win in that category in seven years.

Flett's story board book for infants, Little You (Orca 2013), with text by Richard Van Camp, has reportedly sold more than 50,000 copies, while also garnering the 2016 American Indian Youth Library Association Award for Best Picture Book. The American Indian Youth Literature Awards take place every two years to honour the best children's literature by and about indigenous people.

Flett's success at the annual B.C. Book Prizes is unprecedented. First, Flett provided illustrations for Earl Einarson children's story, The Moccasins (Theytus, 2004), nominated for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize. [See Earl Einarson entry].

Then she won the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize in 2011 for her picture book, Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: L'alfabet di Michif) (Simply Read Books 2010). It was also shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature and nominated for the Neustadt Prize.

Flett received her second Christie Harris Illustrated B.C. Book Prize in April of 2015 for Dolphin SOS (Tradewind 2014), co-authored with Roy Miki and Slavia Miki. Based on true events, Dolphin SOS recounts the story of three dolphins trapped in an ice-covered cove on the coast of Newfoundland. After the government fails to provide assistance, some young boys take matters into their own hands in order to save the distressed dolphins. Dolphin SOS was also nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award 2015 and was cited with an honourable mention for the 2015 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award.

Wild Berries/Pakwa che Menisu (Simply Read, 2013) was chosen as the First Nation Communities READ title selection for 2014-2015. From promotional materials: “Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. This book is written in both English and Cree, in particular the n-dialect, also known as Swampy Cree from the Cumberland House area.”

Walking barefoot on grass. A hand to hold. Bannock baking in the oven. Written to support the wellness of aboriginal families in particular, Monique Gray Smith’s board book for small children, My Heart Fills With Happiness (Orca $9.95), illustrated by Julie Flett, encourages young people to reflect on what brings happiness. Monique Gray Smith is a mixed-heritage woman of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of young twins. Having been sober and involved in her healing journey for more than twenty years, she published a fictionalized memoir, Tilly: a Story of Hope and Resilience (Sono Nis Press 2013). It won First Prize in the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2014.

Julie Flett was born in Toronto but grew up in Calgary from age nine onwards. She studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. As the author and illustrator of the 2014-2015 selection, Julie is the first-time recipient of the 2014 Aboriginal Literature Award, sponsored by the Periodical Marketers of Canada. In 2014 she also provided the cover art for Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, an anthology in response to violence against indigenous women, edited by Joseph Boyden.


The Moccasins (Theytus, 2004)

Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: L'alfabet di Michif) (Simply Read Books 2010)

Wild Berries (Simply Read Books, 2013) $18.95 9781897476895

Little You (Orca 2013) Text by Richard Van Camp (text) and Julie Flett (illustrations) $9.95 9781459802483

Dolphin SOS (Tradewind 2014) Text by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki 9781896580760

We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers (Garfinkel Publications 2014) $10 9781554763986

A River of Stories: Tales and Poems from Across the Commonwealth, Volume 3 (Commonwealth Education Trust 2015)

Dragonfly Kites (Fifth House Publishers 2016) $19.95 bilingual, text by Tomson Highway

My Heart Fills with Happiness (Orca Books 2015) Text by Monique Gray Smith. $9.95 9781459809574

We Sang You Home (Orca 2016) by Richard Van Camp (text) and Julie Flett (illustrations) 9781459811782 $9.95.

[BCBW 2017] "Illustration"