Number of Pages:
Biography & AutobiographyFormat:
Annick PressAge Range:
4-8 YearsBook theme:
Cultural, Ethnic & RegionalAuthor:
Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-FentonLanguage:
About the Book
This book chronicles the unbreakable spirit of an Inuit girl while attending an Arctic residential school.
Bestselling memoir Fatty Legs for younger readers. Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. Ignoring her father's warnings, she travels far from her Arctic home to the outsiders' school to learn. The nuns at the school call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do menial chores, but she remains undaunted. Her tenacity draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But the young girl is more determined than ever to learn how to read. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to younger readers. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.
This excellent picture book, written as a companion to the longer version of it called Fatty Legs, is a powerful way to introduce the residential school experience to younger readers.--Sally Bender"Sal's Fiction Addiction" (02/02/2014)
A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit In this picture-book memoir, an Inuit recollects how she begged her father to attend the church-run Indian residential school so she could fulfill her cherished dream to learn to read... What she discovers is the school is draconian... Olemaun describes how a nun cuts her braid, changes her name, and assigns an endless list of chores... Even as she labors, Olemaun finds strength in memories of her father's love and uses every opportunity to study the alphabet and sound out words. Effective shadow-ridden illustrations capture the pervasive atmosphere of abuse, but the final picture speaks volumes about Olemaun's determination and triumph: her face appears as large and shining as the sun emerging from darkness, because she has taught herself to read... A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit.--Jeanne McDermott"Booklist" (04/30/2013)
Olemaun is a great character and an excellent example for young readers to follow.--Shelbey Krahn"Canadian Materials" (06/21/2013)
The words and the art in When I Was Eight convey a frightful but honest story about perseverance... Look for it. Order it. Share it.--Debbie Reese"American Indians in Children's Literature" (02/21/2013)
This condensed, illustrated version of Fatty Legs brings the power of literacy to even younger children... The beautiful, expressive watercolor illustrations depict Margaret's journey to the misery of residential school to her success.--Lisa Crandall"School Library Journal" (05/01/2013)
When I was Eight is a powerful story based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton... It is a story of a young Inuit girl who goes to a residential school and suffers terrible abuse from the nuns at the school... Through all these trials, she perseveres in trying to learn to read. One day in class she is finally able to stand up to the teacher and show her own strength by reading aloud. It is a moment of victory! Although this story may be intended for younger students who are studying the Inuit, it could also be used in upper grades when discussing social justice issues. The story ties in with anti-bullying themes as well... Highly recommended.--Lori Austin"Resource Links, Vol. 18, No. 5" (05/31/2013)
About the Author
Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton are the authors of "Fatty Legs" and "A Stranger at Home." They live in Fort St. John, BC.
Gabrielle Grimard has illustrated numerous books for children. She lives in Quebec.