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When We Were Alone Hardcover – Dec 1 2016

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: HighWater Press (Dec 1 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781553796732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553796732
  • ASIN: 155379673X
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 0.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Robertson’s soft rhythmic text and Julie Flett’s simple, yet expressive, illustrations combine to create a beautiful story of strength and resistance. The muted colours used in the pictures of residential school life remind readers of the suffering endured by Indigenous children. The contrast between these pages, and the vibrant greens, reds, and blues of the illustrations depicting residential school students temporarily escaping into nature, is heartbreakingly effective. Robertson never tries to disguise the underlying tragedy of Nókom’s experience, but together he and Flett have crafted a book that is still suitable for younger readers, in spite of the intense subject matter.

When We Were Alone is an incredible work of art and is very highly recommended."
- National Reading Campaign

(Roseanne Gauthier National Reading Campaign 2017-06-20)

A quiet story…of love and resistance.… Flett’s collage illustrations, with their simplicity and earthy colors, are soulful and gentle….  All readers will connect with how Nókom lives in celebration of colors, her long hair, her language, and, most of all, her family.
- The Horn Book Magazine, a starred review
(The Horn Book Magazine)

"When We Were Alone is rare. It is exquisite and stunning, for the power conveyed by the words Robertson wrote, and for the illustrations that Flett created. I highly recommend it." - Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature.
(Debbie Reese American Indians in Children's Literature 2016-09-23)

"…Robertson handles a delicate task here admirably well: explaining residential schools, that shameful legacy, and making them understandable to small children. It’s a dark history, and the author doesn’t disguise that, but he wisely focuses the grandmother’s tale on how, season by season, the students use creativity, imagination, and patience to retain their sense of identity. A beautifully quiet, bold strength arises from the continued refrain “When we were alone” and in how the children insisted on being themselves. Flett’s gorgeous, skillful illustrations have a flattened, faux naïve feel to them, like construction paper collage, a style that works perfectly with the story. She nicely contrasts the school’s dull browns and grays with the riotous colors surrounding Nókom and gets much expression from her simple silhouettes.

Spare, poetic, and moving, this Cree heritage story makes a powerful impression." - Kirkus Reviews

(Kirkus Reviews)

"Julie’s Flett’s illustrations are impeccable. The contrast between the colourful and bleak illustrations perfectly match the narrative. The relatively small size of the book makes it perfect for sharing with younger children.

When We Were Alone addresses the topic of residential schools and, just as importantly, aspects of Cree culture and language. There is such gentleness about When We Were Alone that makes it an appropriate book for the even youngest of readers. Simply put, this is a much-needed book.

Highly Recommended."

- Dr. Kristen Ferguson, CM Magazine

(Dr. Kristen Ferguson CM Magazine)

Robertson's text moves between the present and the past, the girl's questions and Nókom's memories, which deepen and intensify the quiet, powerful way she lives out her own culture, day by day, in the present. A beautifully rendered story of resisitance and love, this is made all the more luminous by Flett's art - not just by flashes of fuschsia or scarlet among ochre grasses, but by her precisely observed images of the compact bodies of the uniformed children, bowed beneath the weight of the scissors, or lovingly tending each other's hair. Highly recommended.
- Deirdre Baker, Toronto Star
(Deirdre Baker Toronto Star)

"Done simply, but with devastating clearness this is the story of a woman telling her granddaughter of her time in one of the boarding schools to which Canadian First Nation children were taken. She tells of the brutal methods used to strip them of their own cultures and how they managed to quietly, but firmly resist this. The lovely illustrations further the powerful emotional clout of this important book."
- Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
(Monica Edinger Educating Alice)

Flett's spring palette of warm blues and browns punctuated with splashes of red contrasts the loving moments between grandmother and granddaughter with stark winter whites and grays depicting boarding school life. The repetitive structure creates a predictable narrative; together the illustrations and Robertson's child-centred text make the boarding school experience accessible to a young audience without glossing over its harshness. Verdict: a poignant family story covering a part of history too often missing from library collections.
- Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN
(Chelsea Couillard-Smith)

Review

?BC ERAC-approved.
(ERAC)

"Beautiful, painful, and shining with truth and dignity." - Richard Van Camp
(Richard Van Camp)

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