When I Was Eight

Category: Book
Illustrated By: Grimard, Gabrielle
By (author): Jordan-Fenton, Christy
By (author): Pokiak-Fenton, Margaret-Olemaun
Subject:  JUVENILE FICTION / General
  JUVENILE NONFICTION / Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
  JUVENILE NONFICTION / History / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  JUVENILE NONFICTION / People & Places / Canada / Native Canadian
Audience: children/juvenile
Awards: Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize (2013) Short-listed
TD Summer Reading Club Recommended Reads List (2017) Joint winner
Best Books for Kids and Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre (2013) Joint winner
Recommended Reads List, Canadian Toy Testing Council (2013) Joint winner
Publisher: Annick Press
Published: February 2013
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 32
Size: 9.00in x 9.00in x 0.12in
Our Price:
$ 9.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

Nothing will stop a strong-minded young Inuit girl from learning how to read.

Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. She must travel to the outsiders' school to learn, ignoring her father's warning of what will happen there.

The nuns at the school take her Inuit name and call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do chores. She has only one thing left -- a book about a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole.

Margaret's tenacious character draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But she is more determined than ever to read.

By the end, Margaret knows that, like Alice, she has traveled to a faraway land and stood against a tyrant, proving herself to be brave and clever.

Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to young children. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.

Review Quote*The words and the art in When I Was Eight convey a frightful but honest story about perseverance... Look for it. Order it. Share it.
Review Quote*A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit In this picture-book memoir, an Inuit recollects how she begged her father to attend the church-run Indian residential school so she could fulfill her cherished dream to learn to read... What she discovers is the school is draconian... Olemaun describes how a nun cuts her braid, changes her name, and assigns an endless list of chores... Even as she labors, Olemaun finds strength in memories of her father's love and uses every opportunity to study the alphabet and sound out words. Effective shadow-ridden illustrations capture the pervasive atmosphere of abuse, but the final picture speaks volumes about Olemaun's determination and triumph: her face appears as large and shining as the sun emerging from darkness, because she has taught herself to read... A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit.
Review Quote*Olemaun is a great character and an excellent example for young readers to follow.
Review Quote*Pokiak-Fenton's true story of her experiences at residential school, was originally told in Fatty Legs (Annick, 2010), When I Was Eight is an even more powerful read due to its emphasis on concise, affective text coupled with Gabrielle Grimard's quietly unpretentious artwork.
Review Quote*Powerful and disturbing... Readers will admire her for her incredible spirit and courage.
Review Quote*Utterly compelling.
Review Quote*When I was Eight is a powerful story based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton... It is a story of a young Inuit girl who goes to a residential school and suffers terrible abuse from the nuns at the school... Through all these trials, she perseveres in trying to learn to read. One day in class she is finally able to stand up to the teacher and show her own strength by reading aloud. It is a moment of victory! Although this story may be intended for younger students who are studying the Inuit, it could also be used in upper grades when discussing social justice issues. The story ties in with anti-bullying themes as well... Highly recommended.
Review Quote*This condensed, illustrated version of Fatty Legs brings the power of literacy to even younger children... The beautiful, expressive watercolor illustrations depict Margaret's journey to the misery of residential school to her success.
Review Quote*This excellent picture book, written as a companion to the longer version of it called Fatty Legs, is a powerful way to introduce the residential school experience to younger readers.