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A Stranger At Home: A True Story Hardcover – July 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a book everyone should read. (Betty Gelean edwardsmagazinebookclub.com 2011-07-19)

This memoir, detailing a woeful piece of Canadian history and demonstrating Margaret's strength of character, compassion, courage and her willingness to sacrifice herself for her family's sake, gives the reader a lot to ponder. Highly recommended. (Shelbey Krahn Canadian Materials 2012-02-17)

A Stranger at Home will speak to anyone who has experienced displacement or assimilation into a new culture. This fabulous story enhances the Grades 6 to 8 social studies curriculum. (Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teache 2012-04-01)

Olemaun's spirit and determination shine through this moving memoir. (Kirkus Reviews 2011-09-14)

While it may not have the same drama and tension of the first memoir, this tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world. (Jody Kopple School Library Journal 2011-12-00)

Without being graphic or overwhelming, the Fentons recreate a tragic moment in Canadian history through the innocent reflections of a child...a must for any classroom library. (Canadian Teacher Magazine 2012-05-01)

This book realistically portrays the impact of residential school life on Aboriginal children. (Myra Junyk Resource Links 2011-12-00)

This tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world. The writing is unpretentious and accessible and readers who enjoyed the first book will find this an interesting follow-up. Vivid paintings are a beautiful accompaniment to the storytelling. Photographs from Pokiak Fenton's own collection add important points of reference for readers looking to visualize the characters and the unique setting of the Arctic Circle. A welcome addition to biography collections. (Jody Kopple School Library Journal 2011-12-01)

About the Author

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the author of Fatty Legs, which was named one of the 10 best children's books of 2010 by The Globe and Mail. She is currently working on several children's stories, a novel for adults and a short story collection.

Margaret Pokiak-Fenton spent her early years on Banks Island in the Arctic Ocean. She now lives in Fort St. John, British Columbia.

Liz Amini-Holmes' illustrations have appeared in children's books, magazines and newspapers. She lives near San Francisco, California.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Annick Press (July 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554513626
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554513628
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,420,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Monica Kulling on August 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes, Annick Press, 2011

It is impossible to read A Stranger At Home and its prequel, Fatty Legs, without becoming angry at the injustice that was perpetrated upon the Aboriginal people in Canada in the name of "civilization" and "assimilation." As I read both books, I was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions of shame, anger, and sorrow at how systematic and cruel the residential school system was and how early this misguided endeavour began and how long it lasted--the first residential schools were set up in the 1840s with the last one closing as recently as 1996. The purpose of the schools, which separated children from their families, has been described as "killing the Indian in the child" -- that is, robbing Indian children of their culture, language, family, community, and sense of place in the world into which they were born and belong, in short, their humanity.

Fatty Legs and A Stranger at Home are stellar memoirs. In the first book we meet Olemaun, whose name is changed to Margaret by the nuns. Margaret longs to know how to read (her older sister Rosie spent four years at the residential school and reads Alice In Wonderland to her). Each year when the schooner the Immaculata docks to "pluck" the children and take them to school, she asks her father whether this is the year she can go. He's had the experience of being "plucked" from his family to go to school and resists passing this legacy onto his daughter. But, finally, he agrees because he knows that Margaret must learn to read and write in order to get on in a world that is changing, because it is increasingly being taken over by "outsiders." The ice returns early that year.
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Format: Hardcover
A Stranger at Home is the third true story by Christy Jordan-Fenton about the impact which residential schools had on her mother-in-law Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. It’s also my favorite thus far in the series. A Stranger at Home poignantly portrays the struggles which Olemaun faces as she attempts to rediscover her place within her Inuit community and even within her family, both of which Olemaun has been apart from for two years.

Although Olemaun had been desperate to return home, she now finds herself just of much of an outsider among her own people as she had been at the church-run school. When her parents pick Olemaun up to take her home, Olemaun finds the Inuit language strange to her tongue. Her mother assumes Olemaun will be hungry and so she brings a package of what used to be Olemaun’s favorite foods. However, two years of eating only the white man’s food have taken their toll on her body and the food which once brought Olemaun comfort now sicken her and cause her nose to crinkle. When the family finally reach their canvas tent, the family dogs almost take Olemaun’s hand off because they no longer recognize her scent. Nothing feels the same anymore, not the hour her family rises or the games her sisters play or even the clothes everyone wears.

On some levels, because of my relocating from Canada to the United States, I relate to Olemaun’s attempts to hold onto her heritage. The minute I cross into my home province of Newfoundland, after being away for a year, I start soaking up the unique accent. I also start searching out local foods. There are also naturally changes in family. Although my dog whom I left with my parents is now gone, the first year I returned home after a long absence, he growled at me.
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