Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 6 to 9
- Grade: 1 to 4
- Reading age: 6 to 9
The dual-language edition, in English and Mi'gmaq, of the Silver Birch Express-nominated title, The Train.
Ashley meets her great-uncle by the old train tracks near their community in Nova Scotia. Ashley sees his sadness, and Uncle tells her of the day years ago when he and the other children from their community were told to board the train before being taken to residential school where their lives were changed forever. They weren't allowed to speak Mi'gmaq and were punished if they did. There was no one to give them love and hugs and comfort. Uncle also tells Ashley how happy she and her sister make him. They are what give him hope. Ashley promises to wait with her uncle by the train tracks, in remembrance of what was lost.
About the authors
Jodie Callaghan is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi (Quebec). She started writing stories when she was 8 years old and has always been drawn to story-telling. She has found writing to be the best way to connect to her history and her culture. Jodie currently resides in Northern New Brunswick with her husband, child, and pets. When she’s not teaching, she is very slowly chipping away at her Masters of Education degree from UNB and dreaming up stories she will one day write.
Georgia Lesley is a Canadian-born professional artist and illustrator living in British Columbia's Cariboo region. She began illustrating in 2006 and strives to create a sense of depth, emotion, and visual storytelling, to assist and enhance the written word.
Joe Wilmot was born in Listuguj, Quebec. He traveled extensively in the construction trades before he became involved with Mi'gmaq-Mi’kmaq Online Language (MMOL), the talking dictionary. Joe went to the University of Alberta for summer courses from 2007 to 2010, where he learned about the linguistics of native languages of North America. He has continued to work in the Mi’gmaw language since the early days of MMOL, translating/interpretating, while also working in the Listuguj School System.
- Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Award - Published Work in an Indigenous Language
- Short-listed, New Brunswick Book Award - Alice Kitts Memorial Award for Excellence in Children’s Writing
- Short-listed, Forest of Reading - Silver Birch Express
“The space dedicated to the text of the story anticipates an experienced reader who can appreciate the yarn of loss told in all the words, in both languages. Every picture tells a story in a style best described as crayon realism, but they do convey a metanarrative of affection between the lead characters.”
Indigenous Voices Award Jury statement
Emphasizing sensory details in the present day, the prose is straightforward; Uncle’s traumatic experiences are gently worded for the picture book audience. Lesley’s pastel-like drawings, rendered in a light color palette, vividly capture the story’s emotions in multiple close-ups of Indigenous characters. But it’s Wilmot’s side-by-side Mi’gmaq translation that leaves the deepest impression of the language and culture that was lost—and, thankfully, regained for Ashley’s generation.
Praise for THE TRAIN: "Mi'gmaq storyteller Callaghan recounts this sad episode from Indigenous history using simple, understated text that conveys the lingering pain of this injustice."
"A powerful and distinctive residential-school story."
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
Praise for THE TRAIN: "Through Uncle's story, Callaghan (Mi'gmaq) presents a harsh topic in a gentle way. Lesley's soft color palette and expressive characters blend beautifully with the story without lifting its heaviness. Keeps a critical memory alive."
Praise for THE TRAIN: "'The Train' is a vital story that helps readers learn about residential schools and intergenerational trauma."
"While the Mi’kmaq text is twice as large as the English script, the two languages share space, but use different fonts ... The space dedicated to the text of the story anticipates an experienced reader who can appreciate the yarn of loss told in all the words, in both languages. Every picture tells a story in a style best described as crayon realism, but they do convey a metanarrative of affection between the lead characters."
Jury statement from the Indigenous Voices Award