Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 14
- Grade: 7 to 8
Dez’s grandmother has passed away. Grieving, and with nowhere else to go, she’s living in a group home. On top of everything else, Dez is navigating a new relationship and coming into her identity as a Two-Spirit person.
Miikwan is crushing on the school’s new kid Riel, but doesn’t really understand what Dez is going through. Will she learn how to be a supportive ally to her best friend?
Elder Geraldine is doing her best to be supportive, but she doesn’t know how to respond when the gendered protocols she’s grown up with that are being thrown into question.
Will Dez be comfortable expressing her full identity? And will her community relearn the teachings and overcome prejudice to celebrate her for who she is?
About the authors
New York Times–bestselling author Tasha Spillett (she/her/hers) draws her strength from both her Inninew and Trinidadian bloodlines. She is a celebrated Afro-Indigenous educator, poet, and emerging scholar. Tasha is most heart-tied to contributing to community-led work that centres on land and water defence, and the protection of Indigenous women and girls. Her books include the award-winning graphic novel series Surviving the City and the celebrated children’s book, I Sang You Down From the Stars. Tasha is currently working on her PhD in Education through the University of Saskatchewan, where she holds a Vanier Canada Award. @TashaSpillett
Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington. www.natashadonovan.com
Since 1998, Donovan Yaciuk (he/him/his) has done colouring work on books published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse comics, and High Water Press including A Girl Called Echo and Breakdown: Reckoner Rises series and This Place: 150 Years Retold. Donovan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and began his career as a part of the legendary, now-defunct Digital Chameleon colouring studio. He lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada, with his wife and two daughters.
- Nominated, MYRCA Northern Lights
- Short-listed, Forest of Reading Red Maple Award
- Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book for Young People (Older Category)
- Short-listed, Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
- Short-listed, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
- Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Award, Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in any Language
Surviving the City and From the Roots Up are beautiful, poignant, and emotional. I highly recommend you read these graphic novels.
The Tiny Activist
This story is so important. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, and add so much depth to the story. This book is an essential addition to classroom and libraries.
Bit About Books
Among CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens list, designated a title of exceptional caliber
The Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC)
Moving and heartfelt, readers definitely will want to know what happens next.
The Globe and Mail
Every single thing about these volumes is important. They are beautifully written, fantastically illustrated, at times heartbreaking, humourous, and rooted in Indigenous strength.