Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 5 to 8
- Grade: 2 to 5
Aram Davidian is one of a group of Armenian refugee orphans who made the trip from Corfu, Greece to a new home in Canada, at a farm in Georgetown, Ontario. And like the others, Aram is delighted with the beauty of his new home and the kindness of the people taking care of them.
But adjusting to a new home isn't easy. None of the Canadians speak Armenian, and the boys are left to puzzle out their hosts' bewildering language and customs. While Aram can't really understand why they must eat the steamy mess called porridge every day, he and the other boys are delighted by the strange candies and fruits they have never experienced before. Slowly they must learn that it isn't necessary to horde their food; more comes every day. There is so much to confuse and delight. They cannot understand why their Canadian host wants them to stand under water coming out of a wall when they can just jump in the pond to get clean. But the ice box and stove are wonders of modern life.
Despite the many pleasant distractions, Aram misses his young friend, Mgerdich. Injured on the long journey to Canada, Mgerdich is alone in a hospital in France. And what is more disturbing is that Aram and the other boys have been given new names, English names, to go by. If they are forced to discard their Armenian names, how will their extended families find them again one day? Even the final arrival of Mgerdich does not cheer up Aram, who cannot explain to his young friend why he must have a new name. As much as they want to forget the hardships and tragedies of their past lives, the boys can't understand why they must give up their identities. With a little help from an Armenian translator, Aram at last has the chance to thank his kind hosts for all their care and explain why he and the others must always keep their names.
Call Me Aram is the sequel to My Name is Aram, which was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the CLA's Children's Book of the Year Award.
New Beginnings is a series of historical chapter books for newly independent readers between the ages of eight and eleven. Each novel concerns a boy or girl facing the challenges of adapting to life in a new culture in North America. Every New Beginnings title is well researched, illustrated in full color throughout, and accompanied by an index and glossary.
About the authors
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch est l’auteure d’une dizaine de livres dont Cher Journal : Prisonniers de la grande forêt, Enfant volée, Soldat clandestin et Faire des bombes pour Hitler. Elle a remporté de nombreux prix et est l’une des auteures canadiennes de romans historiques pour les jeunes les plus respectées. L’écriture de Marsha met en relief son héritage ukrainien. Elle a reçu l’Ordre de la princesse Olga de la part du président ukrainien. Elle vit à Brantford, en Ontario.
MARSHA FORCHUK SKRYPUCH is the author of more than a dozen books, including Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land, Stolen Child, Making Bombs for Hitler, Underground Soldier and Don’t Tell the Enemy. She has won many awards for her work and is one of Canada’s most respected authors of historical fiction for young people. Much of Marsha’s writing focuses on stories from her Ukrainian heritage, and she has been presented with the Order of Princess Olha by the President of Ukraine and named a Canadian Ukrainian Woman of Distinction. Marsha lives in Brantford, Ontario. Visit her online at www.calla.com.
Muriel Wood's illustrations have appeared in a number of children's books, including Old Bird, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, and Margaret Laurence's The Olden Day's Coat. She has also illustrated the three previous titles in the New Beginnings series, Scared Sarah, Lizzie's Storm, and Aram's Choice. A former instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Muriel now draws and paints fulltime. She lives with her husband and two cats in Toronto, Ontario.
"Call Me Aram is a good choice for spearheading discussions about the trials of new Canadians. The book provides a realistic portrayal of the homesickness, difficulties with language and other problems faced by displaced immigrants. The theme of maintaining a cultural identity, even when harboured by well-meaning sponsors, is explored. As in Aram's Choice, Muriel Wood's luminous illustrations help to clarify the text.
— CM Magazine
"Skrypuch's tale is an affecting one, made even more so by artist Woods's limpid paintings of the bucolic Canadian farmland."
— The Globe and Mail
"The full-color paintings have an unsophisticated quality that suits the descriptions of children in a bucolic setting. While this book stands alone, it will have greater impact if read along with the earlier title (Aram's Choice)."
— School Library Journal
"Based on historical fact, this story is powerful in teaching readers today of history, cross-cultural understanding, and charity. That which the boys find strange - ice boxes, wood stoves, porridge with cream - today's reader might easily find equally unfamiliar. Skrypuch's narrative voice, in explaining how Aram's culture differs from Canada, also reveals how 1923 Canada differs from our world today. There are many learning opportunities in this text; the depth to which the issues can be explored can be tailored to the age and maturity of the reading audience. The addition of the glossary and historical notes lends validity to the text, rendering it not only a beautiful tale, but an inspiring part of our national history.
Rating: E - Excellent"
— Resource Links
"Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, an accomplished and prize-winning novelist, has written an inspired novel for young readers about the consequences of the Armenian genocide. . . She does meticulous research and pays close attention to accuracy of historical detail. . . Murial Wood's illustrations add a powerful visual dimension to the story. . . Call Me Aram is a powerful novel based on firsthand accounts of actual historical events which will appeal to young readers and adults."
— Curled up with a good kids book
Call Me AramCall Me Aram is the sequel to Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Aram’s Choice. The first book was shortlisted in 2007 for the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award, the Silver Birch Express Award and the Golden Oak Award.
In Aram’s Choice, readers were introduced to Aram Davidian who struggled with a life-changing decision: stay with his grandmother in Corfu, Greece or immigrate to Canada in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. Aram chose to make Georgetown, Ontario his new home.
Call Me Aram chronicles the journey of Aram and his friends as they adapt to the Canadian way of life. Daily Canadian customs are foreign to them and made even more difficult to understand by the Armenian/English language barrier. For Aram, the appearance of a camera is akin to a weapon and its flash synonymous with a “trigger being pulled.” Even more disheartening is the prospect of Aram having to accept a Canadian name. He and his fellow refugees must gather the courage to voice their desire to keep what is left of their Armenian heritage.
Teachers and librarians can use Call Me Aram to demonstrate the obstacles faced by new immigrants as well as Canada’s first international relief efforts. Muriel Wood’s simple illustrations do not attempt to overshadow the story, but instead echo the tone and highlight pivotal moments in Aram’s journey. Though the pacing leaves the reader weary at certain times, Aram’s struggle to do what he believes is right will resonate with readers of all ages.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2009. Vol.32 No.2.
Other titles by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Adrift at Sea
A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival
Traitors Among Us
Don't Tell the Nazis
Trapped in Hitler's Web
Sky of Bombs, Sky of Stars
A Vietnamese War Orphan Finds Home
Ne dis rien à l’ennemi
Too Young to Escape
A Vietnamese Girl Waits to be Reunited with Her Family