Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Based on the true story of the author’s biological mother and aunt, this middle-grade novel traces the long and frightening journey of two Kaska Dena sisters as they are taken from their home to attend residential school.
When Maddy discovers an old photograph of two little girls in her grandmother’s belongings, she wants to know who they are. Nan reluctantly agrees to tell her the story, though she is unsure if Maddy is ready to hear it. The girls in the photo, Aggie and Mudgy, are two Kaska Dena sisters who lived many years ago in a remote village on the BC–Yukon border. Like countless Indigenous children, they were taken from their families at a young age to attend residential school, where they endured years of isolation and abuse.
As Nan tells the story, Maddy asks many questions about Aggie and Mudgy’s 1,600-kilometre journey by riverboat, mail truck, paddlewheeler, steamship, and train, from their home to Lejac Residential School in central BC. Nan patiently explains historical facts and geographical places of the story, helping Maddy understand Aggie and Mudgy’s transitional world. Unlike many books on this subject, this story focuses on the journey toresidential school rather than the experience of attending the school itself. It offers a glimpse into the act of being physically uprooted and transported far away from loved ones. Aggie and Mudgy captures the breakdown of family by the forces of colonialism, but also celebrates the survival and perseverance of the descendants of residential school survivors to reestablish the bonds of family.
About the author
Wendy Proverbs is an emerging Indigenous author of Kaska Dena descent. She holds a BA and MA in anthropology from the University of Victoria. Like thousands of Indigenous people across Canada, as an infant she was caught in the sweeping scoop of Indigenous children taken from their birth families and was only reunited with biological family members as a young adult. She has acted as a community liaison with Indigenous communities and strives to help younger generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, learn more about their past.
“Aggie and Mudgy is a beautiful book. This story captures the warmth of family, then the heartbreak of a family, and finally comes full circle to the love in a family. The new sights and experiences on their journey keep one interested. The ending made me cry in a good way. I highly recommend this book.”
—Bev Sellars, author of They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School
“In Aggie and Mudgy, Wendy Proverbs skillfully weaves a story that invites young readers to engage in a learning experience articulated within a structure reflective of traditional storytelling. Proverbs’s story not only provides insight into the reality of the removal of children to residential schools, but also gives insights and examples of Kaska Dena culture and traditions. These characters will stay with young readers and inspire them to embark on further learning.”
—Michelle Good, award-winning author of Five Little Indians
“An important recounting of the Dene experience where children were removed from their families and taken impossibly great distances to residential schools. Aggie and Mudgy highlights how imperative it was for even the very young, such as these two Kaska Dena girls, to become their own heroes. An example of the enduring legacy of intergenerational memory and of honouring and keeping the stories of these children alive.”
—Christy Jordan-Fenton, co-author of Fatty Legs: A True Story