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Young Adult Fiction Aboriginal & Indigenous

From the Roots Up

by (author) Tasha Spillett

illustrated by Natasha Donovan & Donovan Yaciuk

Portage & Main Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Aboriginal & Indigenous, Death & Dying, LGBT, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12


Dez’s grandmother has passed away. Grieving, and with nowhere else to go, they’re living in a group home. On top of everything else, Dez is navigating a new relationship and coming into their 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 are being thrown into question.

Will Dez be comfortable expressing their full identity? And will their community relearn the teachings and overcome prejudice to celebrate them for who they are?

About the authors

Tasha Spillett, PhD, (she/her/hers) is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and public speaker who draws her strength from her Cree and Trinidadian bloodlines. Tasha’s work centers around the liberation and affirmation of BIPOC women and children. She acknowledges her unique opportunity and responsibility as an Afro-Indigenous woman to create learning environments that are culturally responsive. Infusing her teaching with cultural knowledge, Tasha supports and fosters belonging amongst BIPOC students and their families.

Tasha is the author of the award-winning graphic novel series, Surviving the City, the New York Times bestselling picture book, I Sang You Down from the Stars, and Beautiful You, Beautiful Me. Tasha weaves her cultural identity into both her trade and scholarly work focusing on issues affecting Indigenous women like calls for justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people. Her work is a continuation of the resistance against the legacy of colonialism and a celebration of the beauty and brilliance of her ancestors.

Tasha Spillett's profile page

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.

Natasha Donovan's profile page

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.

Donovan Yaciuk's profile page


  • Short-listed, Forest of Reading Red Maple Award
  • Nominated, MYRCA Northern Lights
  • Short-listed, Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book for Young People (Older Category)
  • Short-listed, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
  • Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Award, Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in any Language

Editorial Reviews

Every single thing about these volumes is important. They are beautifully written, fantastically illustrated, at times heartbreaking, humourous, and rooted in Indigenous strength.

Dani @thunderbirdwomanreads

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)

Surviving the City and From the Roots Up are beautiful, poignant, and emotional. I highly recommend you read these graphic novels.

The Tiny Activist

Moving and heartfelt, readers definitely will want to know what happens next.

The Globe and Mail

Other titles by Tasha Spillett

Other titles by Natasha Donovan

Other titles by Donovan Yaciuk

A Girl Called Echo Omnibus

by (author) Katherena Vermette
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
colorist Donovan Yaciuk

As I Enfold You in Petals

by (author) Richard Van Camp
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
colorist Donovan Yaciuk
letterer Nickolej Villiger

A Blanket of Butterflies

by (author) Richard Van Camp
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, Donovan Yaciuk & Nickolej Villiger

Version Control

by (author) David A. Robertson
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, Donovan Yaciuk & Andrew Thomas

Sugar Falls

A Residential School Story

by (author) David A. Robertson
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson & Donovan Yaciuk
foreword by Murray Sinclair
afterword by Betty Ross

Road Allowance Era

by (author) Katherena Vermette
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson & Donovan Yaciuk


by (author) David A. Robertson
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, Donovan Yaciuk & Andrew Thomas

Northwest Resistance

by (author) Katherena Vermette
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson & Donovan Yaciuk

This Place

150 Years Retold

by (author) Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette & Chelsea Vowel
illustrated by Jen Storm, Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, G.M.B. Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Andrew Lodwick, Scott A. Ford, Donovan Yaciuk & Ryan Howe
foreword by Alicia Elliott

Red River Resistance

by (author) Katherena Vermette
illustrated by Scott B. Henderson & Donovan Yaciuk

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