The Next Chapter

Buffy Sainte-Marie's love of animals shines through in her first picture book for kids

The legendary Indigenous musician, visual artist and social activist spoke to Shelagh Rogers about creating Hey Little Rockabye.
Hey Little Rockabye is a children's picture book written by Buffy Sainte-Marie and illustrated by Ben Hodson. (Greystone Books, Matt Barnes)
Listen12:35

Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie's long career includes an expansive catalogue of music, art and work in activism. And now she can add children's book author to that list, with the publication of Hey Little Rockabye.

Featuring illustrations by Ben Hodson, Hey Little Rockabye conveys an important message about finding love and acceptance: a young girl rescues a little dog and tries to convince her parents to let her keep him. 

An accompanying song was released and the book features sheet music for readers to sing along. 

Sainte-Marie spoke with Shelagh Rogers about creating Hey Little Rockabye.

For the love of pets

"Hey Little Rockabye is about the many wonderful pets who need a forever home. We're hoping that people will consider adopting a little Rockabye of their own through shelters. There are all kinds of reasons why a pet may need a home — and all kinds of people who would do well to have one.

There are all kinds of reasons why a pet may need a home — and all kinds of people who would do well to have one.

"Over the years, I came to be not only a dog people but a cat people. So I'm both. Cats and dogs are very different. Most people who start out with dogs they think that a cat is going to speak the same language as a dog. But you can train cats, you just have to learn a different language. It's like playing the piano is kind of like playing a guitar, but not exactly in crucial ways."

Buffy Sainte-Marie performs at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show in Nashville, Tennessee in 2015. (Mark Zaleski/The Canadian Press/The Associated Press)

Longing for a pet

"As a little girl, I had rabbits. There was a dog and there was a cat that everybody ignored. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a zookeeper — and would envision that would get me close to animals!

When I'm on the road, I like to go down to the local shelter or the local pet stores where they have pets out for adoption.

"I'm always longing for a pet. When I'm on the road — when I'm in Toronto or Calgary or someplace — I like to go down to the local shelter or the local pet stores where they have pets out for adoption. I like to go in to socialize with the animals who are there. 

"I think it does those pets a lot of good, the more people socialize with them. It makes them a better candidate for adoption if we do that now and then."

Finding forever homes

"I'm glad that people are finding out about available animals at pet shelters. All of my animals have been rescues. Adopting a pet is a major thing.

It's a major commitment and I'm so proud that people are finding forever homes for these animals.

"In many pet shelters, you have to sign some papers that state you are not going to adopt a kitten and then abandon it when it grows up — or adopt a dog and then find out that there are vet bills involved. 

"It's a major commitment and I'm so proud that people are finding forever homes for these animals. The animals give us so much. It's so precious."

Watch Buffy Sainte-Marie perform the song Hey Little Rockabye

Watch Buffy Sainte-Marie perform “Hey Little Rockabye” from home during the third episode of the Junos 365 Songwriters’ Circle. 2:08

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now