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THE BARREN GROUNDS by David A.  Robertson Kirkus Star


From the Misewa Saga series, volume 1

by David A. Robertson

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-73526-610-0
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Two uprooted Cree children find themselves in a dreamlike adventure in this series opener.

The edginess 13-year-old Morgan feels runs deep. As a First Nations kid whose whole life has been lived in one White foster home after another, she feels little reason to get excited about anything. Two months in to her new foster home placement, she inherits a new foster brother, Eli, a young Cree boy who spends his time quietly drawing in his sketchbook. After a blowup with their earnestly well-intentioned White foster parents, Morgan and Eli shelter themselves in the attic, where a drawing in his pad seems to come to life, creating a portal into the wintry Barren Grounds of Misewa, where the passage of time is, Narnia-like, different from in Winnipeg. After Eli disappears into this world, Morgan is determined to go after him to bring him back. When she finds him, they discover that the Misewa community of animal beings needs their help to survive the White Time. Robertson (Norway House Cree Nation) carefully establishes Morgan’s anger and feelings of alienation, her resentment at their foster parents’ clumsy attempts to connect her to her culture culminating when they awkwardly present a gift of moccasins. The shift into a contemporary Indigenous fantasy is seamless; it is in this world that these foster siblings discover hope and meaning that sustain them when they return to Winnipeg.

This middle-grade fantasy deftly and compellingly centers Indigenous culture.

(Fantasy. 10-14)