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A STRANGER AT HOME by Christy Jordan-Fenton

A STRANGER AT HOME

A True Story

By Christy Jordan-Fenton (Author) , Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Author) , Liz Amini-Holmes (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55451-362-8
Publisher: Annick Press

After two years in Catholic residential school, 10-year-old Olemaun returns to Tuktoyaktuk on Canada's Arctic coast, a stranger to her friends and family, unaccustomed to the food and clothing and unable to speak or understand her native language.

Margaret Pokiak's story continues after the events of Fatty Legs (2010), which described her boarding-school experience. In this stand-alone sequel, she describes a year of reintegration into her Inuvialuit world. At first, her mother doesn't even recognize her: “Not my girl,” she says. Amini-Holmes illustrates this scene and others with full-page paintings in somber colors. The sad faces echo the child's misery. Gradually, though, with the help of her understanding father, she readjusts—even learning to drive a dog team. She contrasts her experience with that of the man the villagers call Du-bil-ak, the devil, a dark-skinned trapper no one speaks to. She has a home she can get used to again; he would always be alien. The first-person narrative is filled with details of this Inuit family’s adjustment to a new way of life in which books and reading matter as much as traditional skills. A scrapbook of photographs at the end helps readers enter this unfamiliar world, as do the occasional notes and afterword.

Olemaun’s spirit and determination shine through this moving memoir. (Memoir. 8-12)