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SHIN-CHI’S CANOE by Nicola I. Campbell

SHIN-CHI’S CANOE

by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Kim LaFave

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-88899-857-6
Publisher: Groundwood

Shi-shi-etko (of the 2006 eponymous title) is returning for a second year to one of the Indian residential schools that the Native children of Canada were once required to attend. This year, her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, will accompany her. They are loaded into a cattle truck with many others (most of whom look to be adults), and Shin-chi is encouraged to take special note of the natural elements that must sustain his spirit until his summer return: fish, trees, mountains, waters. The children’s school days are full of regulation and restriction, but Shin-chi takes comfort in the river and in the palm-sized cedar canoe Shi-shi-etko has given him as a sort of talisman. LaFave’s digitally manipulated art has a film-like quality that softens his stylized, anonymous figures. Home and nature scenes are tinted blue and gold, but a palette of institutional colors is used for the school-set pages, where the children’s jackets—hers red, his blue—set them apart, Schindler’s List–like, from the dun masses. This gentle look at the residential school program concludes with the children’s reassuring return to their loving family. (Picture book. 6-10)