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When I Was Eight


Product Description:

In this picture-book memoir, an adaption of Fatty Legs (2010), Olemaun (later known as Margaret) an Inuit, recollects how she begged her father to attend the church-run Indian residential school so she could fulfil her cherished dream to learn to read. Once there, what she discovers is the school is draconian. Using a simple, direct tone, Olemaun describes how a nun cuts her braid, changes her name, and assigns an endless list of chores. Classmates tease. Even as she labours, Olemaun finds strength in memories of her father's love and uses every opportunity to study the alphabet and sound out words. Effective shadow-ridden illustrations capture the pervasive atmosphere of abuse, but the final picture speaks volumes about Olemaun's determination and triumph: her face appears as large and shining as the sun emerging from darkness, because she has taught herself to read. A historical note providing context would have been helpful, but advanced readers can turn to the authors' longer work. A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit. Grades 1-3. --Jeanne McDermott

Product Details

About the Author

Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton are the authors of "Fatty Legs" and "A Stranger at Home." They live in Fort St. John, BC. Gabrielle Grimard has illustrated numerous books for children. She lives in Quebec.


This excellent picture book, written as a companion to the longer version of it called Fatty Legs, is a powerful way to introduce the residential school experience to younger readers.--Sally Bender"Sal's Fiction Addiction" (02/02/2014)

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