A little girl sets out to help her grandfather discover the Cree language that was stolen from him when he was sent away to residential school as a boy.
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.
Melanie Florence is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Indigenous themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimâmâ, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, Stolen Words, which won the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award and the bestselling Orca Soundings titles He Who Dreams and Dreaming in Color.
Gabrielle Grimard uses various media to research and create the illustrations for a book, but her favorite aspect will always be color. She uses mainly watercolors, gouache, and oil. She adds a touch of wooden pencil for the details. She has illustrated dozens of books and has been nominated for several awards. She lives near Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Florence's tender text soothes the harsh reality of having Native language stolen while attending one of Canada's former residential schools for Indigenous children. Grimard's equally emotive illustrations show the stark realities of the experience in symbolic images... Unforgettable. (Starred Review) -Kirkus Reviews
... Stolen Words, from Melanie Florence, is one man’s emotional tale of strength, hope, and healing, shedding light on the continued repercussions of the horrific residential schools that separated indigenous children from their families and heritage in the name of cultural assimilation. In color and gray scale, Gabrielle Grimard’s moving watercolors capture the bittersweet journey while looking to the future. -Foreword Reviews
... a sobering ode to [Florence's] heritage, presented through eyes filled with love and hope... Word by word, her story—written in honor of her Cree grandfather—is a significant step toward forever healing. (Starred Review) -Shelf Awareness
...an emotionally charged series of interactions and memories that are pure Melanie Florence. They will astound readers and sadden them, while encouraging healing and learning without shame or anger. -CanLit for Little Canadians
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