Learning to Carve Argillite

  • Illustrated By: Janine Gibbons
  • Pages:40
  • Publisher:Portage & Main Press
  • Themes:carving, grandpa, haida, learning, elders
  • Pub Date:09/28/2021
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 6-8
  • Lexile:AD920L
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:P

Based on Haida artist Robert Davidson's own childhood experiences, this beautiful story highlights learning through observation, as well as the role of Elders in sharing knowledge and mentorship.

Learning to carve is a lifelong journey. With the help of his father and grandfather, a boy on Haida Gwaii practises to become a skillful carver. As he carefully works on a new piece, he remembers a trip to Slatechuck Mountain to gather the argillite, as well as his father’s words about the importance of looking back to help us find our way.

Written by the creators of Potlatch as Pedagogy, this book brings the Sk'ad'a Principles to life through the art of Janine Gibbons.

A quiet, beautiful meditation on how traditions are kept alive by passing them down from one generation to the next, by remembering the ways things were so we can more clearly see the way things can be. Shaped by youth, under the watchful guidance of Elders, like etchings in argillite.


Davidson and Davidson's story is a snapshot of a memory that cohesively and effectively expresses a childhood embedded in love, in family, in tradition, and in art. The artwork is beautiful and thoughtful, often requiring second and third looks to pick up hidden details as the colours and flow of the images draw the eye over the pages. Highly recommended.

– CM Association
First Nations Communities READ   | 2022  |  Long-listed