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Giju's Gift

By Brandon Mitchell
Illustrated by Veronika Barinova & Britt Wilson
Series: Adventures of the Pugulatmu’j
Imprint: HighWater Press

Categories: Children's Fiction, Indigenous, Action & Adventure, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Friendship
Big Ideas: Aspects of Indigenous Cultures, Storytelling and Oral Culture, Contemporary Setting, Social Justice, Impacts of Colonization and Colonialism, Residential Schools, Strong Female Characters
Cultures & Peoples: Mi’kmaq (Mi’gmaq)
Indigenous Languages: Pacifique Mi’gmaq (Mi'kmaw)

Interest Age: 6–8
Grade: 1–3
Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell O, Lexile® Framework for Reading: 500L
Paperback : 9781553799474, 88 pages, February 2022
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781553799481, 88 pages, March 2022
Ebook (PDF) : 9781553799498, 88 pages, March 2022

A Mi’kmaw girl battles an ancient giant and forms an unexpected friendship in the first volume of this series of graphic novels inspired by traditional stories.


Long ago, all living creatures on this land shared a special balance with one another. The pugulatmu’j—the Little People—were the original guardians of the land, and they looked after all living things. As time passed, we forgot these playful yet powerful guardians, but they did not forget us. Occasionally, they make their presence known with the little tricks they play.

When her hair clip disappears, Mali is devastated. It was special, made by her giju'. Her mom thinks she lost it, but Mali knows it was stolen by the pugulatmu’j.

Soon after, Mali is surprised to meet Puug—and he’s wearing her hair clip. If she helps him find what he needs, she has a chance of getting it back. As they hunt for the objects on Puug’s list, Mali uncovers a lot of unanswered questions along the way.

Why is there a giant chasing them? Will she really get her hair clip back? And why is Puug collecting these things anyway?

Join Mali and Puug as they race to keep one step ahead of an ancient giant in the first volume of this graphic novel series for young readers.


  • Short-listed, Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Awards, Graphic Novel 2023
  • Long-listed, PMC Indigenous Literature Award 2023
  • Nominated, Surrey Schools Book of the Year 2023


Among School Library Journal's suggested graphic novels and resources centering the Native American experience.

School Library Journal

What a read! What an adventure! Giju's Gift is a treasure filled with knowledge, insight, and a little bit of terror. I loved it!! Brandon Mitchell and Veronika Barinova have knocked it out of the park and given us something special that everyone can learn from.

Richard Van Camp, Author of A Blanket of Butterflies and Three Feathers

Among CBC Book's 33 Canadian Picture Books to Watch for in Spring 2022

CBC Books

Among The Globe and Mail's Kid's Gift Guide (2022)

The Globe and Mail

An action-adventure graphic novel...about the power and love that memories contain. Highly recommended.

CM Association