CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 12. . . .November 20, 2009
Lori Saigeonís Fight For Justice starts as 10-year-old Justice Stoneyplain heads to the corner store for his post-chore Saturday treats. As Justice approaches the store, he is confronted by a group of kids led by a boy from his own school. Trey seems to have something against Justice and starts calling him names and being generally unpleasant. Justice is able to come out of the encounter physically unscathed, but his shopping pleasure is destroyed as he realizes that his twin sister will be passing by the same group of kids.
Soon after his encounter, Justiceís sister, Charity, does have a run-in with the bullies, but she is terrified that naming them will cause even more troubles. Justice resolves that he is the man of the family and it is up to him to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, his actions of revenge and then, later, retaliation only make the situation worse, and Justice finds that he is feeling worse with every action he takes. After Justice is involved in a fight at school, his mother takes the family out to the reservation to see her parents, Justiceís Mushum and Kokum. It is while spending time with his grandfather and a grumpy neighbour that Justice starts to realize that there may be a reason that Trey behaves the way he does that has nothing to do with Justice. Once back home, Justiceís mother gives him the answer to his bullying problem, and he is finally able to stand up to Trey and his friends.
What adds to the bookís strength is that all the important adults in the story are revealed to be just as unsure and as flawed as the children. Readers see the adult bully in Vanceís father, the unwillingness to make things worse in Justiceís mother, and the occasional ill-thought-out action in Justiceís Mushum. All the adults have really once been where the children are now, and this gives them a much more authoritative voice than if they appeared as perfect people.
Added to the whole theme of bullying is a strong portrayal of the grandparents and life on the reservation. Justice clearly loves his roots and his Mushum and Kokum and presents a very positive image for the urban child. He loves what the elders have to teach him and is very excited about sharing his knowledge and heritage with his fellow classmates. Having Justice do a presentation in class about his favourite place in Canada, the reservation, really helps to bring his character alive. Saigeon has done a wonderful job tackling the issue of bullying while bringing to life a very realistic boy in Justice Stoneyplain
Ruth Sands is a freelance writer from Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.