Jordan-Fenton, C., and Pokiak-Fenton, M. (2013). When I Was Eight. Toronto: Annick Press.
Olemaun, an eight-year old Inuit girl, desperately wants to read. Her father is reluctant to send her away to the "outsiders school," but her persistence pays off. However, her desire to read comes at a great cost. The nuns cut Olemaun's hair, change her name, and subject her to cruel humiliation. Sent down to the fearsome basement as a punishment, "Margaret" realizes she can read, and that her spirit will not be broken. She is Olemaun, "conqueror of evil, reader of books." Just like the heroine of her only book, Alice in Wonderland, Olemaun has faced down those who would do her harm and has prevailed. The story's simple language and beautiful illustrations make a difficult, painful subject accessible to young audiences in an age-appropriate manner and add welcome diversity to any collection.
Ages 7 and up.
These reviews are drawn from my personal reading as well as from unpublished galleys available through NetGalley.com, and advanced reader copies. I receive no compensation for these reviews.