Not My Girl by C. Jordan-Fenton & M. Poliak-Fenton
Jordan-Fenton, Christy and Margaret Poliak-Fenton. Not My Girl. Vancouver: Annick Press, 2014. Print.
When Margaret Poliak-Fenton was eight years old, she was sent to a residential school at Aklavik, NWT. Poliak-Fenton and Christy Jordan-Fenton have told her story of going to Aklavik in Fatty Legs and the picture book version, When I was Eight. They told the story about coming home in A Stranger at Home. Not My Girl is the picture book version of A Stranger at Home and the sequel to When I Was Eight. The story is a poignant one of a child returning home to her Inuvialuit village after two years’ absence to find that her mother rejects her and she no longer fits in. She knew how to "recite verses and make [her] bed", but did not know how to "set traps, skin hares or pluck geese". The first person presentation of the story makes it easy to identify with Margaret as she struggles to re-adapt to her family and community's hunting and fishing way of life.
While the text is not complex, it is probably more appropriate for the upper end of the recommended Grade 1 – 4 reading level. The story is tightly written and includes a parallel story in which Margaret takes a puppy from its mother, who rejects it later because he "no longer carries his family's scent". Gabrielle Grimard's brightly coloured images support the story. They provide both suggestion and detail. For example, backgrounds and landscapes are often broad swaths of colour, while the decorative hems and cuffs of clothing are quite detailed.
This is an excellent volume that should be included in public and elementary school collections across Canada and also in academic collections that include Canadian children's literature.
Highly recommended: 4 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Sandy Campbell
Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines. Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.
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