When I Was Eight

This post joins other
Nonfiction Monday
kidlit blogs hosted today
by Wrapped In Foil
and joins It's Monday!
What are you reading?

Annick Press
(pub. 2.7.2013) 32 pages 

A True Tale with 
A Cherry On Top

A uthors: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
           and Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard
haracter:  Olemaun / Margaret Pokiak-Fenton 

O verview from the back cover: 

"Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. To learn, she must travel to school far from her Arctic home, ignoring her father's warnings. 

The nuns at the school take away her Inuit name and call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do chores. Her feisty spirit draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun, who does everything in her power to make Margaret feel small. But Margaret is more determined than ever to read.

Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton..."

T antalizing taste: 

"I knew many things when I was eight. I knew how to keep the sled dogs quiet while Father snuck up on caribou, and to bring the team to him after a kill. I knew the sun slept in the winter and woke in the summer.

And I knew that when the sun-warmed Arctic Ocean shrugged off its slumbering ice, we would cross it to trade furs with the outsiders.

But I did not know how to read the outsiders' books. It was not enough to hear them from my older sister, Rosie. I longed to read them for myself...

[M]y name is Olemaun (that's OO-lee-maun), the stubborn stone that sharpens the half-moon ulu knife used by our women."

and something more: When I Was Eight not only tells a compelling story about the power of reading, but it is also “a searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit” (Booklist, 04/13). The publisher's website explains what led Christy Jordan-Fenton to write this story: "A desire to raise her children with a healthy sense of self-esteem rekindled her passion for Native issues. Having a Native step-father and step-siblings gave her an early awareness that she credits for igniting that passion. She is eternally grateful to Margaret for having the courage to share her residential school experiences and for giving her the chance to write about them in not one, but two, books [the middle grade book, Fatty Legs]."


Jeff Barger said...

This setting is one that does not receive a lot of attention. When I Was Eight reminds me of Eve Bunting's Cheyenne Again. That would be a good pairing.

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi there Jeanne. I am slowly building a list of multicultural children's books for a course I'm teaching in January 2014, this sounds like a book that I MUST find. Thank you for sharing it this week! So many things I learn from joining the kidlitosphere community every week.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Jeff, I like your idea of pairing this with Cheyenne Again. And I'm always pleased when books are published on more obscure topics/people so children can learn about them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Myra, So glad you like the book. Thanks for stopping by!