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A True Story
Ten Best Children’s Books of the Year, The Globe and Mail USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List PubWest Book Design Awards, Bronze Nautilus Award, Silver Skipping Stones Honor Book Information Book Award, Honor Book Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre First Nation Communities Read Selection Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize finalist Book of the Year Award finalist, ForeWord Reviews Cybils, Blogger Literary Award nomination Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award nomination Hackmatack Award nomination Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award nomination Golden Oak Award nomination, Ontario Library Association Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination Young Readers Choice Award nomination, Pacific Northwest Library Association
Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools.
At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school.
In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.
Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.
“A moving and believable account.”
—Kirkus Reviews,*starred review, 11/10
“An excellent addition to any biography collection, the book is fascinating and unique, and yet universal in its message.”
—School Library Journal, 12/10
“… presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl’s triumph over her oppressors.”
—Quill & Quire, 11/10
“… a story of ingenuity, healing and resilience.”
“Margaret’s character is engaging—her persistence, her strength, and her curiosity touch the reader.”
—CM Reviews, 11/10
“A perfect companion to the study of First Nations issues, this story helps readers empathize with a real person whose determination never waivers in the face of adversity.”
—Professionally Speaking, 03/11
“I highly recommend this book for the discussion it would stir with students … Makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth.”
—Resource Links, 12/10
“The way Olemaun chooses to deal with her humiliation and face her tormentor is inspiring to anyone who has ever felt different.”
“This book is definitely worth having in a public library.”
“This book makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth.”
”… will surely gain more and more attention as devoted readers share the gold it holds.”
“… the strong, boldly colored artwork of Liz Amini-Holmes provides the clear and often heartbreaking truths about this brave woman’s journey to literacy.”
“I’ve looked at several different accounts of residential schools … This is the best story I’ve found so far…”
“… fills a teaching resource void for middle readers …”
—The Tyee, 07/30/12