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) When We Were Alone {read online}

) When We Were Alone {read online}

) When We Were

Alone {read online}


K-Gr 3—A young girl learns about family and heritage in this gentle picture book about the

legacy of Native American boarding schools. Working in the garden with her grandmother, a

pigtailed girl asks why her 'Nókom' wears colorful clothing and her hair in a long braid. Her

grandmother explains that as a child, she was sent far away from her family to a school where she

was forced to wear plain clothing and chop off her hair. 'They wanted us to be like everyone else,'

she explains. But when they were alone, the children would cover themselves in the fall leaves

and braid grasses into their hair in order to recapture the identities they left behind. As her

grandmother speaks Cree to a passing bird and sits laughing with her brother, she shares how it

feels to be forbidden to speak the only language you know and how stolen moments with a sibling

can feel like a lifeline to home. 'Now, I am always with my family,' the grandmother says. Flett's

spring palette of warm blues and browns punctuated with splashes of red contrasts the loving

moments between grandmother and granddaughter with stark winter whites and grays depicting

boarding school life. The repetitive structure creates a predictable narrative; together the

illustrations and Robertson's child-centered text make the boarding school experience accessible

to a young audience without glossing over its harshness. VERDICT A poignant family story

covering a part of history too often missing from library collections. A first purchase.—Chelsea

Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN Read more 'Robertsonâ€s soft rhythmic text and

Julie Flettâ€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 Nókomâ€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 -- Roseanne

Gauthier, National Reading Campaign Published On: 2017-06-20A quiet story…of love and

resistance.… Flettâ€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, The

Horn Book Magazine'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.' - De

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