Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 9
- Grade: p to 4
Former Halifax Poet Laureate and second-generation residential school survivor Rebecca Thomas writes honestly and powerfully in this companion piece to Rita Joe's I Lost My Talk. Includes vibrant illustrations from Mi'kmaw artist Pauline Young.
About the authors
Rebecca Thomas is an award-winning Mi'kmaw poet. She is Halifax's former Poet Laureate (2016—2018) and has been published in multiple journals and magazines. She coordinated the Halifax Slam Poetry team from 2014 to 2017, leading them to three national competitions with the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Her first children's book, I'm Finding My Talk, was a Globe & Mail Top 100 Pick of 2019, as well as a CBC Best Picture Book of 2019, and was nominated for both the 2019 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature and the 2019 Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award (with companion title I Lost My Talk). The book is a White Ravens 2020 selection, chosen by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, and has been nominated for First Nations Communities READ 2020. Thomas's first adult collection of poetry, I Place You into the Fire, was a CBC Best Canadian Poetry pick of 2020.
Rebecca Thomas, 84 LaPierre Cres, Dartmouth, NS, B2W 5C8
Pauline Young is a visual artist who was first exposed to the creative world through her father, Phillip Young, an internationally renowned artist, who painted the bottoms of her feet. She still recalls the smooth sensation of paint oozing between her toes. She draws her inspiration from him and the natural environment and is always looking down to see what the ground can offer, such as incorporating beach sand and red oxide sand into her paintings.
Pauline Young, 880 Route 425, Whitney, NB, E1V 4K4
- Short-listed, First Nation Communities READ
- Short-listed, Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature
- Short-listed, Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award
- Winner, CBC Best Picture Book
Excerpt: I'm Finding My Talk (by (author) Rebecca Thomas; illustrated by Pauline Young)
I'm finding my talk
And it may take some time,
But I?m learning to speak
In a language that's mine.
"Halifax-based publisher Nimbus Publishing have achieved something special, when they decided to both re-publish Rita Joe's poem and commission award-winning young Mi'kmaw poet Rebecca Thomas to write a companion poem, which is entitled I'm Finding My Talk. The texts in these two simultaneously published picture books are accompanied by powerful acrylic illustrations in rich colours created by Mi'kmaw artist Pauline Young. The three creators' voices combined make readers witness the cruelties indigenous Canadians were subjected to in the past, while at the same time providing a heartfelt and powerful plea for the way that new generations can reclaim their families' culture."
— White Ravens 2020 Selection committee (from catalogue)
"This poem delicately continues the story in the first book, without overtaking it. The poet is still straightforward, but perhaps more vulnerable, uprooted: she's looking for the talk the schools took away before she was even born, stolen from her father.... The art in this book is, apart from the opening page reference back to her father's residential school experience, brighter and more vibrant than in Rita Joe's I Lost My Talk, which makes perfect sense and rounds out the journey from grimness to nuanced optimism. It has a dreamlike, aspirational quality: We're not there yet, it says, but we're working on it."
"This is the time for these books. Well, no: it's past time. I wish I'd seen them as a student, myself, but I'm glad they're out there now, at a time Canadians are reckoning with our past and present— and choosing future directions. It's time Rita Joe was allowed to speak directly to us, children and adults alike, and that Rebecca Thomas was given the chance to bring her sequel to us, too. I thank Nimbus for sending me these books. I encourage you, all of you, to get your own copies, examine them, read them, and think about what we're being told."
"I Lost My Talk and I'm Finding My Talk are inseparable sister pieces meant to stand side-by-side. Beautifully illustrated by Pauline Young, these books read like a conversation...one that Joe and Thomas invite readers young and old to join in."
— [EDIT] Magazine(Summer 2020)
"Published as a companion to the picture book I Lost My Talk, featuring the famous poem by Rita Joe, both volumes explore the legacy of Canada's residential schools. They feature vibrant illustrations by Pauline Young that bring the words alive with emotional nuance. This remarkable pair of books possesses the rare ability of being suited to readers of all ages: three to six-year-olds, the traditional intended audience of picture books, will be captivated by the bright, lively illustrations; elementary and middle school children will find their Social Studies curriculum enriched by experiencing these important concepts rendered creatively; teens and adults will gain insight and empathy by enjoying these beautiful poems."
—CM Reviews Highly Recommended (5 stars), https://www.cmreviews.ca/node/1417