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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

Ispík kákí péyakoyak/When We Were Alone

by (author) David A. Robertson

illustrated by Julie Flett

translated by Alderick Leask

Publisher
Portage & Main Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Category
Native Canadian, Post-Confederation (1867-), Prejudice & Racism, Values & Virtues, Multigenerational
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9781553799054
    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price
    $21.95
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781553799078
    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
    List Price
    $17.00

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: k to 2

Description

A young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak Cree and spend so much time with her family? As she asks questions, her grandmother shares her experiences in a residential school, when all of these things were taken away.

When We Were Alone won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award in the Young People's Literature (Illustrated Books) category, and was nominated for the TD Canadian's Children's Literature Award. This edition includes the text in Swampy Cree syllabics and Roman orthography, as well as the original English.

About the authors

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the winner of the Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award, the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer and the TWUC Freedom to Read Award. His books include The Barren Grounds: The Misewa SagaWhen We Were Alone (winner of the Governor General’s Award, a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and a McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People); Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award, graphic novel category); and the YA novel Strangers (recipient of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction). He is the creator and host of the podcast Kiwew. Through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Robertson educates as well as entertains, reflecting Indigenous cultures, histories and communities while illuminating many contemporary issues. David A. Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.

 

David A. Robertson's profile page

Julie Flett is an award-winning Cree-Metis author, illustrator and artist. She has received many awards, including the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You, written by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and the Canadian Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award in 2015 for Dolphins SOS, written by Roy Miki (Tradewind Books) and in 2017 for My Heart Fills with Happiness, written by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books), and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her book Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L’alphabet di Michif). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014-2015.

www.julieflett.com

 

Julie Flett's profile page

Alderick Leask is a respected Swampy Cree language instructor originally from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Manitoba. His experience includes conducting classes in Native Studies, Native Cultures, Native Languages and Canadian History from the Indigenous perspective using Traditional Elders’ Knowledge (TEK) and land-based learning. Mr. Leask places Creation and its bounties as his background in instructing students when learning basic outdoor survival skills. His usage of the functional and descriptive language of Swampy Cree demonstrates its practicality.

Alderick Leask's profile page

Awards

  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Awards for Young People's Literature, Illustrated Books

Editorial Reviews

Robertson’s soft rhythmic text and Julie Flett’s simple, yet expressive, illustrations combine to create a beautiful story of strength and resistance. The muted colours used in the pictures of residential school life remind readers of the suffering endured by Indigenous children. The contrast between these pages, and the vibrant greens, reds, and blues of the illustrations depicting residential school students temporarily escaping into nature, is heartbreakingly effective. Robertson never tries to disguise the underlying tragedy of Nókom’s experience, but together he and Flett have crafted a book that is still suitable for younger readers, in spite of the intense subject matter.

When We Were Alone is an incredible work of art and is very highly recommended.

National Reading Campaign

Beautiful, painful, and shining with truth and dignity.

Richard Van Camp

Robertson handles a delicate task here admirably well: explaining residential schools, that shameful legacy, and making them understandable to small children...Spare, poetic, and moving, this Cree heritage story makes a powerful impression.

Kirkus Reviews

A quiet story…of love and resistance.… Flett’s collage illustrations, with their simplicity and earthy colors, are soulful and gentle….  All readers will connect with how Nókom lives in celebration of colors, her long hair, her language, and, most of all, her family.

The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

When We Were Alone is rare. It is exquisite and stunning, for the power conveyed by the words Robertson wrote, and for the illustrations that Flett created. I highly recommend it.

American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL)

Among CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens list

Canadian Children's Book Centre

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Other titles by Julie Flett

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