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list price: $21.95
edition:Hardcover
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published: Sep 2020
pages: 32
ISBN:9781553799054
publisher: Portage & Main Press
imprint: HighWater Press

Ispík kákí péyakoyak/When We Were Alone

by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett, translated by Alderick Leask

tagged: native canadian, prejudice & racism, values & virtues, multigenerational, post-confederation (1867-)
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $21.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
published: Sep 2020
pages: 32
ISBN:9781553799054
publisher: Portage & Main Press
imprint: HighWater Press
Description

A young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak Cree and spend so much time with her family? As she asks questions, her grandmother shares her experiences in a residential school, when all of these things were taken away.

When We Were Alone won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award in the Young People's Literature (Illustrated Books) category, and was nominated for the TD Canadian's Children's Literature Award. This edition includes the text in Swampy Cree syllabics and Roman orthography, as well as the original English.

About the Authors

David A. Robertson (he/him/his) is the 2021 recipient of the Writer's Union of Canada's Freedom to Read Award. He is the author of more than 25 books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won a Governor General's Literary Award and was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. David’s most recent works include the graphic novel Breakdown (The Reckoner Rises, Vol. 1), middle grade novel The Barren Grounds, children’s book On the Trapline, and memoir Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory. He is also the writer and host of the podcast Kíwew, which won the 2021 RTDNA Prairie Region Award for Best Podcast.

A sought-after speaker and educator, David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.

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Julie Flett studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. She won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her work on When We Were Alone by David Robertson, and her book Birdsong won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. She is the three-time recipient of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award for Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet, Dolphin SOS and My Heart Fills With Happiness. Julie is Cree and Métis and lives in Vancouver.

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Alderick Leask is a respected Swampy Cree language instructor originally from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Manitoba. His experience includes conducting classes in Native Studies, Native Cultures, Native Languages and Canadian History from the Indigenous perspective using Traditional Elders’ Knowledge (TEK) and land-based learning. Mr. Leask places Creation and its bounties as his background in instructing students when learning basic outdoor survival skills. His usage of the functional and descriptive language of Swampy Cree demonstrates its practicality.
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Recommended Age and Grade
Age:
6 to 8
Grade:
k to 2
Awards
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Awards for Young People's Literature, Illustrated Books
Editorial Reviews

A quiet story…of love and resistance.… Flett’s collage illustrations, with their simplicity and earthy colors, are soulful and gentle….  All readers will connect with how Nókom lives in celebration of colors, her long hair, her language, and, most of all, her family.

— The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

Robertson handles a delicate task here admirably well: explaining residential schools, that shameful legacy, and making them understandable to small children...Spare, poetic, and moving, this Cree heritage story makes a powerful impression.

— Kirkus Reviews

Among CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens list

— Canadian Children's Book Centre

Robertson’s soft rhythmic text and Julie Flett’s simple, yet expressive, illustrations combine to create a beautiful story of strength and resistance. The muted colours used in the pictures of residential school life remind readers of the suffering endured by Indigenous children. The contrast between these pages, and the vibrant greens, reds, and blues of the illustrations depicting residential school students temporarily escaping into nature, is heartbreakingly effective. Robertson never tries to disguise the underlying tragedy of Nókom’s experience, but together he and Flett have crafted a book that is still suitable for younger readers, in spite of the intense subject matter.

When We Were Alone is an incredible work of art and is very highly recommended.

— National Reading Campaign

Beautiful, painful, and shining with truth and dignity.

— Richard Van Camp

When We Were Alone is rare. It is exquisite and stunning, for the power conveyed by the words Robertson wrote, and for the illustrations that Flett created. I highly recommend it.

— American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL)

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