Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 5 to 9
- Reading age: 10 to 14
"This compelling novel will introduce young readers to the complexities of modern indigeneity and resilience.”—Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach and Son of Trickster.
A young Indigenous girl searching for a sense of home finds strength and courage in her gifts, her deepening connection to the land, and her own cultural awakening in this moving coming-of-age story.
The last thing that twelve-year old Misko wants to do is to move away from the city to spend time on the rez with her grandmother. And yet she feels strangely compelled to go, drawn by a pull that she feels in her dreams. Maybe she can finally find out what happened to her mother, who mysteriously disappeared when Misko was four years old.
Misko’s relationship to the rez shifts when she encounters a spirited horse named Mishtadim. But Mishtadim is being violently broken by the rancher next door and his son Thomas. Misko and Thomas clash at first, only to find themselves drawn together by the wild horse. As Misko slowly discovers her unique bond with Mishtadim, she feels a sense of belonging and comes to understand the beauty of the world all around her.
She Holds Up the Stars is a powerful story of reconciliation and the interwoven threads that tie us to family, to the land, and to our own sense of self.
About the author
Sandra Laronde hails from the Teme-Augama-Anishnaabe (People of the Deep Water) in Temagami, Ontario, and resides in Toronto. As the founder and artistic producer of Native Women in the Arts, Sandra works as an actor, dancer and writer. She is a founding artistic director of Red Sky Performance. She has written for CBC Radio and is a play creator in residence at Canadian Stage.Sandraâ??s writing appears in Cultures in Transition (McGraw-Hill), Chinook Winds (Banff Centre Press), Gatherings (Theytus Books) and Crisp Blue Edges (Theytus Books). She is a co-editor of My Home As I Remember and Sweetgrass Grows All Around Her, both published by Native Women in the Arts. Sky Woman: Indigenous Women Who Have Shaped, Moved or Inspired Us is her first book with Theytus.
- Nominated, Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award
- Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Center
- Winner, Horace Mann Upstander Award
Excerpt: She Holds Up the Stars (by (author) Sandra Laronde)
“Ahem,” Nimikii cleared his throat. “This song that I’m about to sing is special. Like my buddy Nelson over there.” He gave a nod to the smiling boy. “This song came to my grandfather in a dream, so here goes.” Nimikii started to wail the old song and the drumming rose up and grabbed hold of Misko’s heart and it wouldn’t let go. It held her in its firm grip. She tried to escape the sound by adjusting herself, moving her body, but it just wouldn’t shake loose. It rattled around and then broke up something inside, and, surprisingly, tears streamed down her cheeks. She just couldn’t stop crying. She closed her eyes so that others wouldn’t notice her tears. She could hear Nimikii’s voice and drumbeats thumping inside her chest and everything around her became one snapshot in time where the past, present and future met as one. It was like sacred geometry. She could see energy patterns and invisible lines made of love and how everything was connected and in perpetual motion. She felt it all—the streams that washed against rocks, the loons that called, the fish that splashed, and a red squirrel that scolded her kits in the drey. She had no words to describe this moment, but she had a deeply-felt sense that all things were perpetually unfolding, whether human or non-human, animate or inanimate, the here and forever.
“This heartfelt story of self-discovery and personal strength is told in language filled with evocative imagery and Anishinaabemowin sprinkled throughout . . . A tale of strength and determination rooted in the ancestral pull of home and family.”
Kirkus Reviews, *starred review