When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, Illustrated by Julie Flett


    When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, Illustrated by Julie Flett. HighWater Press, 2016. 9781553796732

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A little girl has a conversation with her grandmother while they tend the flower garden. Why does she wear colorful clothes? Why is her braid so long? The grandmother answers with stories of her childhood as a native Cree, and the treatment she and her brother received as kids whose identification with their native culture the government wanted to suppress. Page openings alternate between the interaction with granddaughter and grandmother, and what happened to her grandmother that made her the way she is now. Cree words are interspersed throughout. Calm, quiet illustrations with deep colors echo the conversation and the telling of history. This is a moving story, with a lot of unspoken history.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I would have loved a short explanation of the historical treatment of native children in Canada and the U.S., so families who don’t know it will have a deeper understanding of the meaning of the story.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a useful book for explaining the treatment of native children in times past.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: August 10, 2017

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This entry was posted in *Starred Review, Book Review, Multicultural and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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