Shin-chi’s Canoe is the sequel to Nicola Campbell and Kim LaFave’s Shi-shi-etko, a Canadian picturebook classic set in the last days before Shi-shi-etko goes to residential school. In Shin-chi’s Canoe, Shi-shi-etko’s younger brother, now six years old, joins her at school.
Seemingly at once slow but swift like the water near the surface of a broad river, the narration and pacing pick up the tempo from the meditative Shi-shi-etko, mirroring the family’s experience of loss and change as first one child, then another is forcibly pulled from home to a hostile and abusive environment. The text introduces the horrors of residential school without dwelling on them, using concrete language.
In the dinner hall the boys and girls sat on opposite sides of the room, brothers and sisters not allowed to talk to one another. They made up sign language to say, “Hi,” or “I miss you.”
For breakfast the children ate porridge and burnt toast. Through the doors they could see their teachers carrying steaming plates of bacon, eggs and potatoes from the farm.
[…] The children were never given enough food.
The story is also marvelously subtle, particularly the page describing Shin-chi and Shi-shi-etko’s studies. Good things can be turned to cruel use and punishment.
As with Shi-shi-etko, the narrative of Shin-chi’s Canoe centralizes family, connection to the land, and memory. It strikes a fine balance between hope and sorrow, maintaining a reflective tone echoed by the illustrations.
The Vancouver Public Library recently updated their Presented with Pride for Teens brochure, which now includes annotations of over 25 LGTBQ+ books for young adults, including contemporary fiction, memoirs, short stories, nonfiction and graphic novels! You can find the book list in its entirety on the library’s website. Here are just a few of the […]
I have a number of things to get done, and you are quite obviously someone who gets things done.” (p. 346-347) As I mentioned earlier, Stacey Lee’s Outrun the Moon has my new favourite protagonist, Mercy Wong, THE most indomitable, march into your heart and take no prisoners young woman I’ve had the pleasure of reading […]
Jake loves lacrosse. He loves his family and his culture and heritage as an Iroquois boy. So he isn’t happy when he has to move to Maryland, where his mum is working as a lawyer. Leaving his uncle’s household, his team, and everyone on the reserve to live in a commuter complex and attend a […]
I went to a high school with a required uniform: polo shirt, kneesocks or tights, black shoes, skirt. Luckily for me, I’m feminine-of-centre and like skirts. But they make eleven-year-old Liv “about as comfortable as an octopus in a spacesuit.” That makes sense, because Liv is a boy. The only problem is, he hasn’t told […]
Finding diversity in early readers, particularly when it comes to popular, commercially-successful series, can unfortunately be a real struggle for many teachers, librarians and caregivers. Books featuring trains, dinosaurs, aliens, superheroes and animals are a dime a dozen, but finding stories that reflect the diversity of our communities can be challenging. I discovered a great […]
At last the Dear Canada series has a book featuring an Indigenous protagonist*! Ruby Slipperjack, who is herself Eabeametoong and who was sent to a Residential School at the age of seven, has written the diary of Violet (Pynut) Pesheens. Violet is thirteen when she is sent to study at one of Northern Ontario’s Residential Schools. The year […]
This turned out to be less spoilery than I had expected, but if you don’t want to know Certain Important Things ahead of time, go read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire first. If you need a bit of a push to decide whether or not to read it (do it, do it), here is a very […]
The wizards had done this many times. It had become routine to them, watching boys die. (p. 352) When an academic superstar tells you not once, but twice in one day how fabulous a book is, you take notice. Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey is absorbing, rich, compelling. I read it with almost the hunger […]
Black Apple by Joan Crate Published by Simon & Schuster Source: publisher This is what the publisher says (I received an ARC, so the back copy on my book might not match the back copy on everyone else’s): Torn from her home and delivered to St. Mark’s Residential School for Girls by government decree, young […]