Stolen Words

Stolen Words

Book - 2017
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"This picture book explores the intergenerational impact of Canada's residential school system that separated Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down and shared through generations, and how healing can also be shared. Stolen Words captures the beautiful, healing relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks him how to say something in his language - Cree - her grandpa admits that his words were stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather regain his language."--Publisher's description.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Second Story Press, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781772600377
Branch Call Number: CJ FLORE-M
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) : colour illustrations ; 23 cm
Additional Contributors: Grimard, Gabrielle - Illustrator


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Nov 06, 2019

Teaching children about difficult times in the past can be a challenge. How do you explain to a little one that in the past kids were taken from their homes and put into residential schools? I would have thought it was almost impossible to do so elegantly and with a positive ending, until now. Melanie Florence has taken an embarrassing and awful piece of Canadian past and framed it in such a way that children can consume and understand. I'm very impressed with this picture book and it's ability to convey the sadness of the past; but still give hope for the future.
The illustrations are well done and I like the idea of the words (shown in bird forms) being trapped in a cage. I think this type of obvious pictorial helps children understand that the words were out of reach. Without getting into the nuances of how trauma makes us forget things.
Easily the best part of Stolen Words is the last bit when the little girl 'returns' the words to her Grandfather. It's considerate and bittersweet. The only thing I wish is that there was a phonetic explanation at the end of the book in an appendix or afterword that taught adults how to say the Cree words. I struggled to determine how to say the Cree words and you know that children being read to will want to know. (I always remember a child I was babysitting many years ago telling me I read Dr. Seuss wrong because that's not how Mommy said things). However there is the marvelous internet to help look up the Cree words and be sure to know how to say them. This little bit of homework really brings Stolen Words up to a high level for a children's book. Overall this is an easy 5 stars; not because it's well written but because it's important that we teach the next generation what not to do.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

May 25, 2018

It's beautifully illustrated, and the story makes you want to learn more about the history of Canadian Indians.

DPLjosie Jan 18, 2018

This look at the impact of Canada's residential school system is a wee bit scary at the beginning, but so warm and fuzzy by the end. I love the author's use of a book and the library to show they powerful, emotional impact books and knowledge can have in this situation. Also, the role of a granddaughter in helping heal her grandfather's wounds shows the great strength and resiliency of this Cree family.


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