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Shin-chi's Canoe

by Nicola I Campbell
Illustrated by Kim LaFave

Published by Groundwood Books / House Anansi Press, 2008
40 pages
ISBN: 9780888998576

Ages 7-10

This sequel to Shi-shi-etko (Groundwood, 2005) details the Indian boarding school experience of Native children in the United States and in Canada, where this story is set. Forced by law to leave home to attend government-run schools where their language and culture are suppressed, siblings Shi-shi-etko (called Mary at school) and Shin-chi (David) are not allowed to speak to one another so strict are the rules and so regimented the hours of their day. When he can bear missing his family no longer, Shin-chi sends the tiny carved canoe his father gave him down the river toward home. He knows he and Shi-shi-etko will follow when the school year finally ends. Days turn into weeks, and then months. There are bright spots, like Shin-chi’s new friend, John. But the brightest of all is when June arrives he and Shi-shi-etko are homeward bound at last. A graceful narrative from Nicola Campbell (Interior Salish and Métis) is set against Kim LaFave’s sepia-toned artwork that deftly contrasts the warmth of the outdoor world, even in winter, with the sterile boarding school environment.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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