Small Number and the Three Berries

Small Number and the Three Berries

Written by Veselin Jungic, Bethani L'Heureux & Betty Wilson
Illustrated by Bethani L'Heureux

Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief. One cool winter day, Small Number visited his Grandma.




Story Transcript


Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief. One cool winter day, Small Number visited his Grandma.

For Small Number, his Grandma is the best cook in the world. Grandma knows that bannock is Small Number’s favourite treat, so she decides to make bannock for lunch.

Small Number watches Grandma as she mixes the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Then Grandma adds oil into the mixture and whisks the ingredients together with a fork, gradually adding water and stirring.

“Grandma, how come that you didn’t measure how much flour, salt, and baking powder you put into the bowl? When I help my mom with cooking, she asks me to measure everything two times so that she is sure that we follow the recipe.” – says Small Number.

Grandma smiles: “I have my ways. I know how many handfuls of flour and how many pinches of salt I need if I am making bannock for two, five, ten, or fifty people.”

“I learned how to make bannock from my mom’s mom,” continues Grandma. “She taught me that for five pieces of bannock, I would need four handfuls of flour.”

“My bannock is not as half good as hers were.”

Grandma stops and looks at Small Number: “I loved my Grandma very much and she loved me the same way I love you, Small Number.”

Grandma dusted a part of the kitchen counter with flour and moved the dough from the bowl to the counter. Then she started to gently knead the dough.

“Do you remember the island that we could see from the porch of my sister’s house when we stayed with her last summer? When I was your age, my grandma and grandpa would take me in their canoe to the island to help them collect all kind of berries: thimbleberries, huckleberries, wild strawberries, blackcaps, and blueberries.”

Grandma divided the dough into six balls and started flattening the first ball with the palm of her hand.

“We would stay overnight on the island. Both my Grandpa and my Grandma were great storytellers. I remember sitting between them on the beach, staring at the stars and listening their stories about the ways of our people.”

Grandma put the oil in the frying pan, turned the stove burner on, waited a few minutes and then placed each of the six pieces of dough in the pan.

Small Number could smell the freshly fried bannock and he felt his heart beating faster. He went to Grandma and gave her a hug, “Thank you, Grandma.”

When Grandma took the bannock from the frying pan and put them on a paper towel lined plate, each piece of bannock looked golden brown on both sides.

“We need to wait a bit until the bannock cools down.”

“So, while we are waiting let’s think about a question that my Grandma asked me long time ago.”

“Two father bears and two son bears go to the bushes to get a berry each. There are only three berries left, but each bear gets to eat one. Small Number, how is that true?”

Small Number was still thinking about Grandma’s question when he heard Grandma’s voice:

“Now, shall we snack on some bannock with strawberry jam?”

Question: How many handfuls of flour did Grandma need to make six pieces of bannock?

Credits and Acknowledgements

Written by: Veselin Jungic, SFU, Bethani L’Heureux of the Cree Nation, and Betty Wilson of the Tla’amin Nation
Voice: Bethani L’Heureux of the Cree Nation
Illustrator: Bethani L’Heureux of the Cree Nation
Sound: Bethani L’Heureux of the Cree Nation
Music: Catharine Blackstock of the Gitxsan Nation and Gary George of the Wet’suwet’en Nation
Animation: Aidan Wright, Victoria, BC
Producer: Veselin Jungic, Simon Fraser University
Director: Aidan Wright, Victoria, BC

Special Thanks To: 

  • Ozren Jungic, Ottawa, ON
  • Pam Borghardt, Coquitlam, BC
  • Department of Mathematics, Simon Fraser University
  • Faculty of Science, Simon Fraser University
  • Office for Aboriginal Peoples, Simon Fraser University
  • The IRMACS Centre, Simon Fraser University


Part of this story is inspired by a visit to Ahgykson Island on the traditional territory of the Tla’amin Nation.