Reviewed by Debbie Reese
Imagine. That’s what writers do. They imagine a place, a time, and the people of that place and time.
It is very hard to do well, especially when the writer is crossing into a place and time that is not their own, where every word they write is drawn from that imagining.
On her website, Melanie Florence writes that she’s Cree/Scottish. She also writes that she never had the chance to talk with her grandfather about his Cree heritage and that Stolen Words is about a relationship she imagines she had been able to have with him. In other words, she didn’t grow up as a Cree person. She didn’t grow up in a Cree community. Without a tangible connection to Cree people, the risk that we have a story that is more like something a Scottish person would write, is very high. Continue reading.
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
Published by Second Story Press on September 5th 2017
Genres: American Indians, First Nations, Metis, Inuit
Reading Level: Grades 1-2
Review Source: American Indians in Children's Literature
The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language - Cree - he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.