Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

Stolen Words

Melanie Florence, Author

Gabrielle Grimard, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Sep. 5, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Intergenerational relationship, Grandfather, Indigenous history, Cree language, Residential schools, Healing

Opening: She came home from school today. Skipping and dancing. Humming a song under her breath. Clutching a dream catcher she had made from odds and ends. 

Synopsis: As a young girl skips down the street clutching her grandfather’s hand, she asks him, “How do you say grandfather in Cree?” He is sad that he can not remember. He tells her he lost his words a long time ago. He shares with her how he was taken from his family to a residential school for Indigenous children where they were not permitted to speak their native language. The girl sets out to help him find his native language again.

Why I like this book:

This is a warm and touching intergenerational story about a devoted granddaughter who is determined to help her grandfather remember his lost Cree language. Melanie Florence’s story will make you teary as the girl lovingly discovers a way to help him remember and begin to heal.

Florence’s language is simple and has a beautiful rhythm to it. But it delivers an emotional punch as readers learn about how the girl’s Cree grandfather was taken from the loving arms of his family and put into a Canadian residential school. He was forced to forget his language and culture.

Readers will be moved by Gabrielle Grimard’s tender and emotive watercolor illustrations. She captures the sadness in the grandfather’s face and the love and joy of the granddaughter as she springs into action to help him remember.  The illustrations of the words being stolen from the children are very symbolic and powerful.

Florence wrote Stolen Words in honor of her grandfather. She never had the opportunity to talk with him about his Cree background. The story she wrote is about the healing relationship she wishes she had been able to have with her grandfather.

Resources: This is an excellent book to talk with children about the history of residential schools in the 1920s. A powerful look at Canadian history and First Nation children, this book would work well paired with I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, and When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton.

*The publisher provided me with an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

31 thoughts on “Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

  1. This sounds like a very moving book. I have been thinking so much about our indigenous peoples lately & what they have suffered. Giving thanks for books like these that help bring their stories to light to help with healing and empowering!

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    • The Canadian publishers do a wonderful job of printing children’s books about the indigenous First Nation tribes. This is the third book I’ve read recently that touched on the suffering of children taken from their families and made to forget their language and heritage. What we do in the name of fear. I am so glad that these stories are being written.

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    • I find myself sharing a lot of First Nation books because the Canadian publishers print them. We could use more Native American stories for children. The niche presses are where I find the best books.

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  2. Sounds like an incredibly moving story. I love the idea that the grandchild is the one who helps her grandfather relearn his language. Look forward to reading this book. Wonderful review, Pat!

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  3. Gotta read this book! Thanks for such a thoughtful review… Thinking this is a story that belongs in every school library.

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    • I would add North American history, as it does deal with the indigenous First Nations people in Canada and the residential schools. It is a story for younger children and filled with so much heart!

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    • Yes, it is a timely topic. The residential schools were in Canada. I reviewed another PB this past year called I AM NOT A NUMBER by Kay Dupuis. It gives more detail for older kids. This book is a gentle and compassionate story for younger children.

      Liked by 1 person

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