CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . March 16, 2012
Pemmican Publications potentially fills a vital niche in Canadian children’s literature as a Métis publishing house conveying important Métis and First Nations stories. Such a story is Pemmican’s new picture book, Kookum’s Red Shoes. The book relates the childhood experiences of a now-elderly woman who was taken from her family and placed in a Residential school when she was a child. It is important that such stories of Canada’s past are told. It is equally important that such stories are well told. The author, Peter Eyvindson, does a good job of that here but, unfortunately, Sheldon Dawson’s illustrations are a disappointment and fall well short of conveying the troubled and troublesome emotions enwrapped in this episode from Canada’s history.
Eyvindson cleverly creates a parallel between the story of Dorothy, from The Wizard of Oz, and the story of his protagonist. Early in the book, the unnamed young girl, who eventually becomes Kookum, goes with her parents to a motion-picture theatre to see the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Shortly thereafter, she is swept up in a tornado of her own in the form of a man in a truck. She is whisked away from her family and swept into an assortment of distressing challenges within her new school. Unlike Dorothy and her ruby slippers, the young girl in Kookum’s Red Shoes is forced to leave her shoes behind, and they remain as a symbol of her treasured past.
Recommended with reservations.
Dr. Gregory Bryan specializes in literature for children at University of Manitoba.
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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.