I am not a Number Review
by Larissa Juliano www.larissajuliano.com
I am not a Number (provided by Second Story Press) is an emotional account about the beautiful, and often persecuted Indigenous Peoples in the North American continent. The story (based on true events) starts off with the heart wrenching separation of a family, as the young children are sent to a residential school to ‘unlearn’ their heritage, language, customs, and everything else that encompasses one’s identify. In the 1880’s until more than a century later, Indigenous families were taken from their homes to ‘assimilate’ with the Christian Canadian culture. According to authors Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, the residential schools were; “created and funded by the federal government in the belief that Indigenous peoples were uncivilized and needed to be ‘saved’ from themselves”.
Assimilating them into what was considered the ‘proper society’ meant harsh and often abusive punishments, poor quality education, questionable food and isolated and disease ridden living conditions. This thoughtfully crafted story, beautifully illustrated by Gillian Newland, follows a young girl named Irene and her two brothers (and later revealed to be author Dr. Dupuis grandmother in the ‘Author’s note’). There is a lot of dialogue between Irene and her family, and later on, the harsh and punitive nuns who subject Irene and other children to severe emotional and physical anguish as they force children to not utter any phrases in their own language. Before Irene was snatched from her beloved family’s home, her mother tells her to ‘never forget who you are’. This mantra allows Irene to remain strong under her circumstances and eventually reunite with her family during the summer months. Despite the upsetting depiction of this time in history, there is a happy ending to the story for Irene and her brothers.
I really treasured the family’s bond in this story. Vivid descriptions of the settings, circumstances and then the character dialogue beautifully depict the range of emotions Irene and her family experience – from fear and naïveté to bravery and determination. Lots of questions will arise from children as they read this book, but the Author’s Note in the back (along with some beautiful photographs of Indigenous families) help explain this tragic time in history…and what has been done to rectify the treatment of these families by the government.
~ I am not a Number provided by Second Story Press
Image from http://www.jennykaydupuis.com
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books
Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Delores Connors, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.