When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.
When We Were Alone won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award in the Young People's Literature (Illustrated Books) category, and is nominated for the TD Canadian's Children's Literature Award.
David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (winner Governor General’s Literary Award), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), Betty, The Helen Betty Osborne Story (listed In The Margins), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.
Julie Flett is an illustrator and artist of Cree-Métis descent. She studied fine arts at Concordia University (Montreal) and Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver). She received the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet(L’alphabet di Michif); her book Wild Berries/Pakwa che Menisu was chosen as the First Nation Communities READ title selection for 2014–2015 and the first-time recipient of the 2014 Aboriginal Literature Award.
Spare, poetic, and moving, this Cree heritage story makes a powerful impression.
Wow! Beautiful, painful, and shining with truth and dignity. Bravo!
—Richard Van Camp, Author
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, a starred review