Shinchi's Canoe

Overview


When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can't speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home. This poignant story about a devastating chapter in ...
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Overview


When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can't speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home. This poignant story about a devastating chapter in First Nations history is told at a child’s level of understanding.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
This is the story of a family and their love for one another during a very difficult time. Shi-shi-etko and her brother Shin-chin have to leave their parents and grandparents to go to a boarding school that is far from where they live. They are Native people who are considered Indians in Canada. Their families are forced to send them to an Indian residential school. Shi-shi-etko, Shin-chin and their family don't want to go and their parents do not want to send them, but it is the law. The purpose of the school is to teach the Indian children to learn to speak and to live the way the Europeans live in the hopes they would forget their own language and their way of life. The children are very sad to leave home because they know they will not be able to see their family for several months. All of the children where Shi-Shi-etko and Shin-chin live must also attend this school. At the school Shin-shi-etko and Shin-chin are not allowed to speak their language or even to speak to each other. Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chin refuse to forget the ways of their people and find a way to see each other while attending the school. At the end of the school year, they finally return home and are reunited with their family. This heartfelt story recounts the unfair treatment and injustices that Native Peoples suffered in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
School Library Journal

Gr 2-5

This realistic, tender story recounts the experiences of Native siblings sent to a government-mandated, church-run boarding school such as those that were common in Canada and the United States from the late 1800s until the 1970s. Hauled away with the other reservation children in a cattle truck, six-year-old Shin-chi and his older sister, Shi-shi-etko, try to memorize life at home from the "trees, mountains, and river below." Shin-chi clutches a tiny carved canoe, a forbidden memento homemade by her father. During the school year (until the sockeye salmon return), Shin-chi and Shi-shi-etko are not allowed to speak to one another and must endure the cruel treatment and restrictions forced upon Native children as they work and go to mass and to school. Hungry and lonely, young Shin-chi tries desperately to hold on to his Native traditions, sneaking out to sing his grandfather's prayer song and release his canoe in the river. LaFave's striking yet soft digital illustrations are appropriately somber and deftly capture the mood with subtle earth tones on each page. An author's introduction details the practice of sending Native children to residential schools. An accessible and important contribution to Native literature.-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
Shi-shi-etko (of the 2006 eponymous title) is returning for a second year to one of the Indian residential schools that the Native children of Canada were once required to attend. This year, her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, will accompany her. They are loaded into a cattle truck with many others (most of whom look to be adults), and Shin-chi is encouraged to take special note of the natural elements that must sustain his spirit until his summer return: fish, trees, mountains, waters. The children's school days are full of regulation and restriction, but Shin-chi takes comfort in the river and in the palm-sized cedar canoe Shi-shi-etko has given him as a sort of talisman. LaFave's digitally manipulated art has a film-like quality that softens his stylized, anonymous figures. Home and nature scenes are tinted blue and gold, but a palette of institutional colors is used for the school-set pages, where the children's jackets-hers red, his blue-set them apart, Schindler's List-like, from the dun masses. This gentle look at the residential school program concludes with the children's reassuring return to their loving family. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888998576
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 12/2/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 418,201
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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