On the Side of Angels

Kusugak, Jose Amaujaq. On the Side of the Angels. Iqaluit, Nunavut: Inhabit Education Books Inc., 2020.
How do you explain life to yourself when you are suddenly – and inexplicably – thrust into a foreign culture? How do you make sense of all the changes?
Jose Kusugak – in this nonfiction narrative – tells the story of his childhood. A carefree Arctic life playing games with siblings and trying to figure out the strange stories told by the Catholic Church. A confusing life in residential school where horrors mixed with happy events. This straight-forward account is unique in showing – in straightforward language – a child’s view while simultaneously providing an adult’s perspective.
While catalogued as a children’s book, some of the references might be too graphic for young readers. Some of the references to Bible stories might be puzzling to readers unacquainted with Christianity. Nevertheless, at only 54 pages in length and printed in a relatively large font, this matter-of-fact and even occasionally humorous autobiography is highly recommended for discriminating readers eleven years old and up.

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Stolen Words

Florence, Melanie. Stolen Words. Toronto: Second Story Press, 2017.
What did you call your grandfather when you were very young? Grandpa? Opa? Papi? Baba? How does hearing the words of your early childhood affect your memories? Your emotions?
A little girl asks her grandfather what to call him in Cree. He doesn’t know. He was sent to residential school when he was young and his language was taken away from him. So she goes to her school library and comes home with a book: Introduction to Cree. Together, they learn the language of their culture. This gently powerful picture book – illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard – is highly recommended for readers of all ages.   

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