Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids

Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids

by Deborah Ellis
     
 


After her critically acclaimed books of interviews with Afghan, Iraqi, Israeli and Palestinian children, Deborah Ellis turns her attention closer to home. For two years she traveled across the United States and Canada interviewing Native children. The result is a compelling collection of interviews with children aged nine to eighteen. They come from all over the… See more details below

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Overview


After her critically acclaimed books of interviews with Afghan, Iraqi, Israeli and Palestinian children, Deborah Ellis turns her attention closer to home. For two years she traveled across the United States and Canada interviewing Native children. The result is a compelling collection of interviews with children aged nine to eighteen. They come from all over the continent, from Iqaluit to Texas, Haida Gwaai to North Carolina, and their stories run the gamut — some heartbreaking; many others full of pride and hope.

You’ll meet Tingo, who has spent most of his young life living in foster homes and motels, and is now thriving after becoming involved with a Native Friendship Center; Myleka and Tulane, young artists in Utah; Eagleson, who started drinking at age twelve but now continues his family tradition working as a carver in Seattle; Nena, whose Seminole ancestors remained behind in Florida during the Indian Removals, and who is heading to New Mexico as winner of her local science fair; Isabella, who defines herself more as Native than American; Destiny, with a family history of alcoholism and suicide, who is now a writer and pow wow dancer.

Many of these children are living with the legacy of the residential schools; many have lived through the cycle of foster care. Many others have found something in their roots that sustains them, have found their place in the arts, the sciences, athletics. Like all kids, they want to find something that engages them; something they love.

Deborah briefly introduces each child and then steps back, letting the kids speak directly to the reader, talking about their daily lives, about the things that interest them, and about how being Native has affected who they are and how they see the world.

As one reviewer has pointed out, Deborah Ellis gives children a voice that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to express so readily in the mainstream media. The voices in this book are as frank and varied as the children themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
In an invaluable, eye-opening narrative history, Ellis (the Breadwinner series) presents interviews with dozens of youth ages nine to 18 from among the 565 federally recognized Native tribes in the United States and 617 First Nations communities in Canada. Ellis briefly introduces historical traumas that continue to resonate, from the 1830 Indian Removal Act, attacks on Indigenous language and culture, and the forcible removal of Native children from their homes to government-sponsored, church-run industrial boarding schools. After establishing each setting, Ellis shares the children's first-person stories, which matter-of-factly address the influence of their heritages on their home environments, views, and communities. Valene, an 18-year-old Cree, after describing years of bouncing from home to foster care to crisis center, acknowledges, "My younger siblings can say I love you, but I can't." Fourteen-year-old Danton, a talented Métis musician, says, "We are so lucky to be alive at a time when we are encouraged to be proud of who we are." Unsettling and sad, humorous and inspiring, these collected stories are a testament to the remarkable resilience these children marshal in the face of significant challenges. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Winner of the Aesop Prize
Winner of the Social Justice Literature Award
Finalist for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction
Finalist for the Red Maple Non-Fiction Award

"It’s heartening that so many of these young people are positive about their lives, no matter how troubled, and about their futures. . . . Ellis’ book is an excellent opportunity for classroom discussion and individual, empathy-inducing reading." — Booklist, starred review

"Ellis’s transcriptions of these interviews allow the authentic voices of the young people to come through . . . Important and provocative, this is a good choice for libraries wanting to add a contemporary, youthful perspective on issues affecting indigenous people in North America." — School Library Journal

"[T]hese young people embrace their distinctive cultural practices and almost without exception, express a buoyant attitude. As gay Chippewa 16-year-old Zack puts it, 'They tried really hard to kill us all off, and we’re still here!'—a welcome and necessary reminder to all." — Kirkus Reviews

"[O]ften simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful...Unflinching and informative, this volume will appeal to a broad range of readers." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Praise for Kids of Kabul:
"It's a gritty, poignant, and intensely personal glimpse into the effects of war and poverty." — Publishers Weekly

VOYA - Diane Colson
Through her fictional Breadwinner series, Deborah Ellis introduced a generation of young readers to the hidden lives of children in the Middle East. Now, Ellis brings first-person accounts from young people growing up in cultures equally foreign to mainstream America, only much closer to home. Looks Like Daylight features the result of forty-five interviews conducted by Ellis over a two-year period. These are true stories of Native American and Indigenous teens living throughout North America, too often in areas that are barren or isolated or poisoned by toxic waste. Despite the geographical breadth of the interviews, the hardships faced by these kids are strikingly similar to each other. Too many stories tell of grandparents removed from their homes by government programs and placed in abusive, residential schools, effectively scarring a full generation. Nearly every adolescent in this book speaks matter-of-factly about spending time in foster care. And yet, the collection is filled with inspiring stories. For example, eighteen year old Jose is absorbed in designing and building robots on the Choctaw reservation in Mississippi. Seventeen year old Cassie speaks confidently about her plan to attend college in Winnipeg. In addition, Native kids are learning nearly extinct traditional languages and participating in revivals of traditional art and dance. These accounts go a long way to demolish stereotypes of drunken, illiterate Native people. Despite all odds, these young people envision viable futures for their tribes. They want readers to know that after centuries of persecution, they are still here. Reviewer: Diane Colson
Children's Literature - Rosa Roberts
In this compelling read, the author provides up close interviews and narratives on 45 young Indigenous people living across the United States and Canada. The ages of the interviewees range from nine to eighteen years old. All of the children and teenagers featured are from federally recognized Native tribes in the United States and Nations communities in Canada. With each young person, a brief introduction into the region and tribe is given before providing a first person account of the individual’s life. Throughout the personal accounts, readers will gain an insight into their lives, thoughts, interests, perceptions, problems, and the historical ramifications of their situations. Some of the stories have the common experience of attending residential schools and placement in foster homes for a variety of reasons. This collection of interviews provides an in depth perspective and lends a voice to the young lives of the often overlooked and misconstrued Indigenous people in North America. Royalties from the sale of this book will go to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-08-15
In distilled interviews, 45 young Native Americans express hope, resilience, optimism--and, rarely, anger--amid frank accounts of families plagued by drug, alcohol and sexual abuse, as well as murder, suicide, extreme poverty, and widespread discrimination, both public and private. The interviewees range in age from 9 to 18 and in locale from the Everglades to Nunavut, Martha's Vineyard to Haida Gwaii. Despite this, likely due to editorial shaping, Ellis' interviewees sound about the same in vocabulary and "voice." Together, they tell a wrenching tale. Many are foster children; several suffer from or have siblings with spectrum disorders and other disabilities; nearly all describe tragic personal or family histories. Moreover, the narratives are shot through with evidence of vicious racial prejudice--not just in the distant past: "My mother works with residential school survivors," tellingly notes Cohen, a Haida teen. Even the youngest, however, display firm tribal identities and knowledge of their collective history and heritage. Also, along with describing typical activities and concerns of modern day-to-day living, these young people embrace their distinctive cultural practices and almost without exception, express a buoyant attitude. As gay Chippewa 16-year-old Zack puts it, "They tried really hard to kill us all off, and we're still here!"--a welcome and necessary reminder to all. (introductory notes, photos, annotated lists of organizations) (Nonfiction. 12-16)
School Library Journal
10/01/2013
Gr 9 Up—Ellis's commitment to giving voice to young people, especially marginalized or underserved youth, is evident in this collection of interviews with children from various indigenous cultures throughout Canada and the United States. Here, children as young as nine tell stories about their identity and what it means to them to be Native or Aboriginal. Many of the accounts are harrowing to read. Alcoholic parents, lives spent in and out of foster homes, and bigotry and discrimination are an almost daily part of their lives; yet most of the children express hope for a better future for themselves and find ways to immerse themselves in their traditional culture through art, language, dance, and/or connections with community elders. Ellis's transcriptions of these interviews allow the authentic voices of the young people to come through, and brief introductions providing context and, in some cases, historical information, are enormously helpful and insightful. With many of the children dealing with similar issues, stories can begin to feel repetitive and occasionally confusing, hence weakening the impact of some individual tellings, though educators looking to use this book with students will find some real gems to share with groups. The stories are not organized in any discernible manner, neither by age nor affiliation, and the result feels almost random and chaotic. Important and provocative, this is a good choice for libraries wanting to add a contemporary, youthful perspective on issues affecting indigenous people in North America.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554981205
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
535,767
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
HL780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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