MacKids Spotlight: Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

Meet the creators of the stunning picture book We Are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade! Carole and Michaela share more about their inspiration for this picture book, their most memorable teachers and librarians, their favorite childhood books, and more!

When describing We Are Water Protectors, what’s your elevator pitch?

Carole Lindstrom: It’s a story about Indigenous People’s fight for clean water.

Michaela Goade: Inspired by the Standing Rock Water Protectors, We Are Water Protectors is a tribute to Indigenous resilience, a love letter to the land and its waters, and a rallying cry for others to join in the defense of Mother Earth and her sacred waterways. Water is life!

What inspired you to write/illustrate We Are Water Protectors?

Carole: I was inspired by Standing Rock and all Indigenous People fighting against the extraction industry for our water.

Karen: First and foremost, I am always inspired by the land and water. It’s often at the core of whatever project I’m working on! I was also inspired by the Standing Rock Water Protectors and their incredible resilience. Their story, and the stories of other Indigenous-led environmental justice movements around the world, deserve more attention and recognition. After all, they are fighting for everyone’s right to clean water, clean air, and the protection of our shrinking wild lands.

Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.

Carole: I would say my 6th grade teacher, Miss Jirsak, had the biggest impact on me. I was bullied pretty bad in grade school and she kept me inside at recess so I could help her grade papers and decorate the bulletin boards. It was the first time I felt safe and protected and really seen by a teacher. I truly feel she saved me in so many ways. I missed a lot of school because of stomach problems and just being afraid to go to school. I will never forget her. 

Michaela: When I was in high school, I had a painting displayed in the hall. A student objected to it and complained to the principal and school board president, which led to a bit of controversy. I had a history teacher at the time, Mr. Lehnhart, who supported me and made it a topic in classroom discussions surrounding free speech and censorship. The support meant so much, as the whole event was one of my first significant experiences in uncomfortable spotlight, and I began to really understand the power of art.

Is there a book that you wish you wrote?

Carole: Not any books that I wish I wrote. But a lot of books that I think are amazing that I am thrilled are out in the world for all of us. They make me a better writer.

Michaela: You know, nothing really comes to mind. The things I love about certain picture books are precisely because they came from another’s well of creativity! Does that make sense?

What is the first step in your creative process?

Carole: I just throw everything I can think of related to the story on paper. Whatever paper I find lying around. I just keep adding to the pile until I feel like I’m ready to look at the computer screen. But I love the feel of pen or pencil on paper. I like how fast I can write vs. how fast I can type my thoughts.

Michaela: When I first receive a manuscript I read it over and over and over! Sometimes I’ll even record myself reading the text and play it on repeat while I go on walks in the woods. In the studio, I scribble notes in the margins and any sketches that come to mind. I research and look for symbolism, metaphors and elements of traditional history and stories that I can layer into the art.

What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?

Carole: I would say my favorite book when I was 10 years old was probably Charlotte’s Web. I loved that book. I think it was told so brilliantly. The characters were so alive to me. I also loved this book because my older brother like me to read it aloud. And I always treasured any chance I could to read aloud.

Michaela: While I can’t say for certain what I was reading at age 10, when I was perhaps a bit older, I remember loving The Golden Compass series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter. Basically I was obsessed with anything magical and fantastical!


Carole Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Métis and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. She was born and raised in Nebraska and currently makes her home in Maryland. She is the author of Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle.

Michaela Goade is an artist and graphic designer living and working in Juneau, Alaska, where she was also raised. Forever inspired by the coastal wilds of Southeast Alaska, she works to capture its magic and honor its vibrant cultures. Michaela is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi Clan from Sitka, Alaska. She has illustrated Encounter (Brittany Luby) and Raven and the Tide Lady.



We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; illustrated by Michaela Goade
Ages 3-6

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruptiona bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.

Praise for We Are Water Protectors:

★ “In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice. An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet.”—Kirkus, starred review

★ “Goade’s watercolor illustrations fill the spreads with streaming ribbons of water, cosmic backdrops, and lush natural landscapes…. Lindstrom’s spare, poetic text flows with the “river’s rhythm.” Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—and others—these pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action.”—Booklist, starred review

★ “Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary… A passionate call for environmental stewardship.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Read more author Q&As here!