Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Not My Girl

Grimard, Gabrielle (Illustrator)
Annick Press 2014. 32 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781554516247 (paperback)
9781554516254 (hardcover)
9781554516261 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

When ten-year-old Olemaun returns from residential (“outsiders”) school to her Arctic home, she is heartbroken to find she is a stranger to her family and their Inuit community. “Not my girl,” her mother tells her coldly, on seeing Olemaun’s short hair and hardened body. Everything seems foreign to Olemaun, too. She no longer remembers her native language, is disgusted by foods she once loved, and has lost the skills she needs to be useful.

Written in Olemaun’s voice, the story helps readers experience her sense of not belonging in visceral ways: her father’s sled dogs snap at her when they don’t recognize her scent; her body refuses to accept whale blubber, or muktuk, a traditional treat. (“I chewed and chewed it and tried to wrestle the rubbery chunk down. But my throat closed and my stomach turned.”) Slowly, with the encouragement of her father, and eventually her whole family, Olemaun gets reacquainted with traditional ways and finds a place in her mother’s heart again as “my girl.”

Vividly rendered illustrations depict the emotional expressions on the characters’ faces up close and contrast with the vibrancy of the wide Arctic landscape. On one double-page spread, the northern lights provide a brilliant green background as Olemaun triumphantly drives her very own dogsled and reclaims her heritage.

Based on the true story of author Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, this sequel to When I Was Eight is a reminder of the universal need for home and family, and how difficult it can be to repair those bonds when severed.

  •  

    Consider the title and the cover page illustration. Make predictions about the story. Discuss what it would feel like to be a stranger in your own home.

  •  

    Olemaun is referred to as “outsider”. Have you ever considered yourself as an outsider? Explain the situation in your reader-writer’s notebook. Is being an outsider always negative?

  •  Using a graphic organizer, write all of the ways that Olemaun is treated like an outsider and all of the ways that she slowly comes to feel at home again.
  •  

    Authors sometimes use animals to symbolize how a human is feeling. How does the puppy’s suffering and recovery resemble Olemaun’s pain? Make a T-chart to compare the puppy’s and Olemaun’s stories.

  •  

    Look at the title and the cover page illustration. Make predictions about the story. Discuss what it would feel like to be a stranger in your own home.

  •  

    With a partner, draw a timeline of Olemaun’s story once she is back from residential school. Identify her feelings and emotions as well as her community’s feelings. Compare your thinking with that of another team.

  •  

    Olemaun is referred to as an “outsider.” Have you ever considered yourself as an outsider? Explain the situation in your reader-writer’s notebook. Is being an outsider always negative?

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship