Picture Book Review: Stolen Words

Stolen Words
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a beautiful book! This emotional little story shows a grandfather explaining to his granddaughter that he cannot teach her to speak his native language, Cree, because he has forgotten it. As a boy, he was placed in an Indigenous boarding school, separated from his culture, torn from his family, and punished if he spoke Cree.

In just a few poignant words, this book had me crying. It deals with a very dark issue in such a sweet and loving way, and shows that while cruelty may impact our heritage, there is also healing to be found. The story is told in a simple way that is appropriate for young children, but also has an emotional impact for good.

The illustrations are just lovely! Every line seems to hold emotion and beauty in it, from the gnarled old grandfather with so much pain and regret in his face, to the sweet smile of his innocent little granddaughter, struggling to understand that there could be pain or cruelty in the world somewhere. There is a graceful movement to the illustrations that draws you ever deeper into the story.

After reading this I immediately began searching for more information about the Cree people, the schools that stole their children, the teachers that stole their language, and what I found horrified me. History is so brutal. Then I reread this little book again with new knowledge and understanding of what is hidden between the lines, and started crying again. I read it three times!

The very first line of this book is “She came home from school today.” Just a sweet little girl walking from school to her happy home with her loving grandfather. She came home. But when he was a boy, her grandfather didn’t come home from his school.
Every word in this book is purposeful and full of meaning. Brilliant writing! So touching.

The importance of heritage, family culture, and language in creating our identity is beautifully prominent in this book, told from the perspective and understanding of a little child.

Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts and are not influenced by anyone.

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