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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

Dog Tracks

by (author) Ruby Slipperjack

Fifth House Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Native Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12


Abby is having trouble fitting in at Bear Creek Reserve. After having lived most of her life with her grandparents in town, it's definitely a transition moving back to the reserve. When Choom, her grandfather, falls ill, Abby must leave her best friends at school, her supportive grandparents, and her perfect pink bedroom, and adjust to living with her mom. But it's not only being back with Mom that is hard - there's a new father, John, a pesky half-brother, Blink, a schoolroom full of kids who don't know her (and don't seem to want to, either), not to mention a completely different way of life that seems so traditional, so puzzling and complicated.

But, with the help of the reserve's chief, Paulie, a puppy named Ki-Moot, and her parents' vision of a sled-dog tourist venture, Abby slowly begins to find her rhythm at Bear Creek. All she has to do is follow the dog tracks.

In Dog Tracks, Ruby Slipperjack writes the story of those who return to the reserve and rediscover their culture. The book is both a celebration of Abby's youthful determination and a series of teachings about Anishinawbe traditions, history, and culture. Woven into Abby's narrative of self-discovery, and perhaps integral to it, are the teachings of Elders and parents, knowledge of hunting, fishing, berry-picking, and living on and with the land - all drawn from Slipperjack's own knowledge of the land and her people.

Dog Tracks is a book that crosses genres: it is a tender story of an uprooted girl who finds home and self, and it is also a subtle text that gives readers a glimpse of traditional and non-traditional life on a northern Ontario reserve.

About the author

Ruby Slipperjack,
or Ruby Slipperjack-Farrell is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ruby spent her formative years on her father's trap line on Whitewater Lake. She learned traditional stories and crafts from her family and has retained much of the traditional religion and heritage of her people. Her family later moved to a community along the railway mainline. She went to residential school for several years and finished high school in Thunder Bay.

After graduating from high school Ruby successfully completed a B.A. (History) in 1988; a B.Ed in 1989; and a Master of Education in 1993. In 2005 she completed a Doctoral program at the University of Western Ontario.

Ruby is a member of the Eabametoong First Nation and speaks fluent Ojibway. She uses her maiden name "Slipperjack" when she writes, in honour of her parents and ancestors for the cultural knowledge and teachings that inform her writing. Ruby has retained much of the traditional religion and heritage of her people, all of which inform her writing. Her work discusses traditional religious and social customs of the Ojibwe in northern Ontario, as well as the incursion of modernity on their culture. Ruby is also an accomplished visual artist and a certified First Nations hunter.

Ruby is the mother of three daughters and currently lives in Thunder Bay with her husband and their two shelties.

Ruby Slipperjack's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"A wonderful book to share with readers interested in Native culture. A heartfelt coming of age story about finding oneself that will be enjoyed by many readers. . . Filled with detail and heart, this is an intimate look inside the rich culture of the Anishinawbe people of northern Canada."
Youth Services Book Review

"Slipperjack carefully paints a portrait of traditional and non-traditional life incorporating history and culture into a coming of age story. . . The novel, aimed at readers of Abby's age group, serves as a primer on Aboriginal life for readers of all ages and would be a useful addition to public and school libraries especially in support of the Social Studies' curriculum focus on First Nations.
CM Magazine

"A lovely story..."
The Chronicle Journal

"This is not one of those clumsily written 'young-adult-learning-to-walk-in-two-weeks' novels. Rather, this story is about knowing who you are; it's about knowing you have the love of your relatives, no matter where they are; and it's about coming home to your community. . .This novel will stay with readers long after they have finished reading it."
Multicultural Review

"Abby is a very interesting and appealing character who experiences the realities of everyday teenage life. . . Although the novel is not action packed, it would be a wonderful choice for young readers who are interested in learning about the lifestyle and traditions of the Anishinabe culture and the relationship between city life and reservation life."
Resource Links

Other titles by Ruby Slipperjack