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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather

by (author) Mary Harelkin Bishop

edited by Deana Driver

illustrated by Heaven Starr

DriverWorks Ink
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
Native Canadian, Values & Virtues
Recommended Age
10 to 18
Recommended Grade
5 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price

Classroom Resources

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Skye is beginning a new school year at a shiny new school that doesn’t feel as welcoming as her old school. Her teacher doesn’t understand her and her classmates laugh at her. Skye can’t stop thinking about dancing powwow and having a Culture Club and Drumming Group at her new school – but there is no such thing there and her principal won’t even consider it. One night, an old woman comes to Skye in a dream. She’s carrying an eagle feather … and Skye learns what she must do to make things right.

Awards: Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018, Junior & Intermediate Fiction, The Canadian Children's Book Centre. Silver, Pre-teen Fiction, Historical / Cultural, 2018 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.

About the authors


  • Runner-up, Silver, Pre-teen Fiction, Historical / Cultural, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018, Junior & Intermediate Fiction, The Canadian Children's Book Centre

Contributor Notes

About the Author
Mary Harelkin Bishop has been a writer since she was nine years old. She is the author of the best-selling Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventures books, the award-winning Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, Seeds of Hope, Gina’s Wheels, and Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje. She has also been a teacher, a teacher-librarian, and an educational/instructional consultant with Saskatoon Public Schools, and has spent more than half her career working in core neighbourhood schools. A few years ago, Mary took a leave of absence to study the effects of colonization on Indigenous students in our school systems. Her thesis is entitled: Soul-to-Soul: Deconstructing Deficit Thinking in the Classroom. Her newest novels, Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather and Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, reflect her learning as she, too, walks with our cousins on the journey toward relationships and reconciliation.

About the Illustrator
Heaven Starr is a Dakota Cree woman who lives on Starblanket First Nation in east central Saskatchewan. She started drawing and painting in 2014, in her Grade 10 school year, after learning more about her First Nations background. Her hope is that her artwork will honour her ancestors and bloodlines. She walks, speaks, and prays in life, hoping to make a positive change with whatever she does.


Excerpt: Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather (by (author) Mary Harelkin Bishop; edited by Deana Driver; illustrated by Heaven Starr)

Chapter Three

Skye continued to struggle at school. Even though she tried, she was not happy. Mostly, she worried about Cheyenne. Her usually bubbly and happy little sister was becoming a shadow of herself. She did what she was told, brought home a library book every night and read it with Mom or Dad or Skye, but she didn’t delight in the books as she had with her favourite stories.

When Skye’s class went to the library, she purposely looked for the books that Cheyenne wanted, but they weren’t listed in the online catalogue. Curious and puzzled, Skye searched the library shelves for book titles she knew, like Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and Road Allowance Kitten by Wilfred Burton. She couldn’t find them.

“Can I help you find a book?” the librarian asked.

“I’m looking for books about Cree people, or the Métis. Where are they kept?” Skye asked, looking around. At her old school, the books were always on display and had their own large shelf in the library.

The librarian studied Skye’s brown skin and black shiny eyes and hair, then looked away. “We really don’t have much; just some older books with historical content that are used when classes research First Nations.”

Skye flushed, annoyed. Her culture and history were important; she was a person! “I just wanted to read a book about my People’s history – their REAL history!” she said.

“Sometimes those books are upsetting to readers, so we just don’t keep them in this library,” the librarian said stiffly. “We don’t want to upset anyone.”

“Well, it’s upsetting me that I can’t find any books about people like me in this library. Don’t I count too?” Skye blurted out before she could help

herself, her tone sounding disrespectful. “And what’s wrong with reading books that might make you sad? They also make you learn something. And most of them are about the history of the People! My people!” By the time Skye finished speaking, her voice had risen several decibels and everyone in the library stopped in their tracks, staring at her.

The librarian huffed and pointed a long finger toward the door. “This is a quiet place for serious students with serious requests. Come back when you can be the kind of student we want to have here in this school.”

Angrily, Skye stomped across the room and threw open the door, letting it bang against the wall behind her. Raven and Justin gave her a thumbs-up sign as she walked by them and she couldn’t help but give them a triumphant smile, but she felt deflated inside. All she wanted was to read books about her history and her own people. So why did she feel like such a criminal?

Skye stood seething in the hallway, waiting for her class to finish getting their books. Sage appeared out of nowhere, surrounded by his new friends, heading out to the front of the school to play football. “What did you do now?” he hissed at Skye as he strode past.

Skye shrugged. “I just asked for books about us – about our kind of people – and they don’t have any.”

“Forget about those books,” Sage warned her. “Just read something else, or don’t read at all. You need to learn to fake it to fit in here, like me. You need to get along with everyone, Skye, or life will be hard for you.” Sage turned and followed his friends outside to play ball.

Life is hard, Skye thought miserably. It didn’t seem to matter what she did, life was difficult. She just didn’t know how to fit in. She didn’t know how to let things go, like Sage did. Maybe she should try harder to do things his way. It sure seemed to be working for him.

Editorial Reviews

“Every time I read one of Mary Harelkin Bishop’s books, I learn something new. As a relative newcomer to Canada and Saskatchewan, I’ve heard the words, “We recognize that we are standing on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis…” many times without really knowing what that meant. Now, thanks to Bishop’s latest book, Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather, I have a vivid picture in my mind… As I read the book, I had no idea how it was going to end. Clearly it would end well (it is a children’s book, after all), but how? Some of the characters were so emotionally rigid that I couldn’t see how they could change without stepping out of character. But somehow Bishop manages to work a story miracle… The book is a great way for children to discover the history that is all around them and the significant part that each of us plays in our world.”

“Bishop's latest novel is a smooth-flowing, straightforward narrative that would work well as an independent reading choice or as a part of an integrated Language Arts/Social Studies curriculum. The integration of main character Skye's dream narratives with the plot is seamless; there is none of the jumpiness that sometimes comes with such a switch in perspective. Bishop includes a line about the importance of these dreams in Chapter Three: "She knew visions were important in her culture—they were a way to help a person learn something and Skye knew she needed all the help she could get."

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