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[Monday Reading] Inuit-Arctic Girls in Picturebooks: “Immi” and “Not My Girl”


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Poster done by Iphigene
Poster done by Iphigene

These two picturebooks demonstrate the beauty of the Arctic and the formidable yet playful spirit of two Inuit girls. While the narratives show different themes, they both celebrate our interconnectedness with each other and the world.


Written and Illustrated byKarin Littlewood
Published byGullane, 2010 Book Awards: 2012 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award — Picture Book (Nominee), 2013 Virginia Readers Choice Award — Primary (Nominee), ISBN: 186233823X (ISBN13: 9781862338234)
Signed Book given to me as a gift. Book photos taken by me. Junior Library Guild Selection. 

This is a quiet and simple story of a young girl who lives in the Arctic, fishing for food under the freezing ice. However, instead of catching food, she found beauty instead. It first came in the form of a colourful little wooden bird:


Later on, she found even more treasures that provide nourishment to the soul, leading so many friends to come visit, attracted by the radiance of her igloo.


Reminiscent of Leo Lionni’s Frederick, the poet field mouse who gathered words and sunshine, Immi is a young girl who finds magic in feathers, and the scent of the sun in a lone leaf. The ending is beautiful – showing Immi’s gratitude as she offered her white bear necklace into the waters – where it ends up, I shall leave for you to discover.

Not My GirlIMG_9456

Written by: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton Illustrated by: Gabrielle Grimard
Published byAnnick Press, 2014 Book Awards: 2015 USBBY Outstanding International Book Honor List, 2015 Information Book Award finalist (Children), Storytelling World Award, ISBN: 1554516250 (ISBN13: 9781554516254)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

This book is a sequel to When I Was Eight, a picturebook published in 2013 by the same picturebook creators. Based on the real life experience of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, this is a deeply moving story of what homecoming is like for a lot of Inuit children educated in the “outsider’s” school ran by nuns.


I found the image above so poignant as Olemaun (used to being called by her Christian name, Margaret, in school) looks at her mother who did not seem to recognize her without her long braids, not to mention her tall and thin frame after being away for so long. To hear her mother utter the words: “Not my girl” must have been heartbreaking.


The story revolved around how Olemaun struggled to fit in her home of origin – it was the father’s warm welcome (see above) which made Olemaun feel that she was finally home – even the family dog does not recognize her scent any longer. She had to re-learn all the customs she learned from birth: from the family’s eating rituals to household chores. It was distressing to witness how Olemaun, who found it so hard to fit in her new school, now suffered from the same difficulty in her own home where she was supposed to feel safe and accepted. However, things are not always as easy as they seem – a sentiment that is commonly felt by a lot of third-culture kids – or worse, kids who are taken from their homes for re-education purposes.

While the theme was heavy-going, I was particularly enamoured by the gorgeous depiction of the Northern lights and how Olemaun was able to find some comfort in it.

For teachers who wish to make use of both these picturebooks in the classroom, I invite you to look at this free downloadable PDF file on First Nations/Inuit Resources to see more titles around this very important theme.

Currently Reading…

I am glad to share that I finished reading two books over the past week:


The Tree Is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering Of Poems & Stories from Mexico with paintings by Mexican artists selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.


I was finally able to finish reading this novel: Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.


I am halfway through Truthwitch, and I hope to review it soon.

Have you read any of these books? Would love to hear your thoughts about them.

20 comments on “[Monday Reading] Inuit-Arctic Girls in Picturebooks: “Immi” and “Not My Girl”

  1. I’m curious about Between the World and Me. Such mixed reviews on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting collection of books.


  3. I have Not My Girl on my list, but still haven’t gotten it, Myra. It sounds so heartbreaking. What a terrible thing people did to those children. I’ll look for Immi too, and your response to Between The World and Me, another heart-breaker.


  4. Your adult and children’s books all caught my eye…I love the collage presentation that includes scenes from the outdoors…and a cute kitty in a basket. Fun!

    I am curious about Between the World and Me. Enjoy! Thanks for visiting my blog.


  5. Between the World and Me–such a necessary book and so beautifully written. I marked so many passages to copy in my notebook that I ended up thinking I needed to copy the entire book! I have Not My Girl and When I Was Eight but haven’t read them yet. Hoping to get to them in the next couple of weeks. Love the cat in the basket photo too!


  6. Looks like Between the World and Me made an impression on you based on all the sticky notes. I will have to pick it up when I return from vacation.


  7. Not My Girl sounds intriguing. And I love your well tabbed copy of Between the World and Me.


  8. Not My Girl is so powerful and so heart-wretching. I think it’s important for kids/adults to know that those sorts of things happened and to really see/understand the impact they had on families.


  9. Not My Girl is such a heartbreaking story, a valuable addition to our Aboriginal children’s collections here in Canada.


  10. We haven’t read Immi but loved Not My Girl. What a heartbreaking story but an important one to share with students.


  11. Immi looks really nice. And I like your pics- the beach pics and the cat as well. Very nice. 🙂


  12. They all look such wonderful books Myra, I was just looking at them and thinking here in NZ we do publish quite a few picture and children’s books but not much genre authors for adults because of our small population – even though on the whole we are a reading nation!


  13. I listened to Between the World and Me and found it very powerful. I know I missed parts of it because I was listening. I want to be able to read the print version so I can reread passages. Both of the Inuit picture books look beautiful.


  14. These books look like good picture book companions to Julie of the Wolves. I’ll have to look around for them. Thanks for sharing these.


  15. I haven’t read any of these books. Immi sounds like a lovely book. Arctic White by Danna Smith is a very poetic book that shows the beauty of the arctic.


  16. You read a terrific selection of books this week. I miss picture books. My girls used to devour those and we’d spend at least $50-$100 every time we would visit the local bookstore. The Intuit ones look very interesting and I love their teachings. I’ve heard of the Coates book before as many have mentioned and reviewed that. I would have to listen to it on audio as it seems like a heavy one. The Truth Witch is on my TBR. Witches are close to my heart. Mahalo for dropping by my blog :O).


  17. payanar100

    The picture books about Inuit girls seem like very interesting books. I am curious about Between the World and Me. It is definitely on my TBR list for the very near future.


  18. I really appreciated Between the World and Me. Not My Girl is another I’ve read. It is an emotional book. It’s a necessary piece of literature though. I am glad that more and more people are sharing the residential school experiences. Thanks for the resource list.


  19. Both Immi and Not my Girl are titles I have share with my classes over the last few years. Wonderful titles.


  20. I’ve definitely seen TruthWitch before, I believe it was in a benjaminoftomes video not that long ago! Added that to my tbr!

    My post is over at of you want to see some of my currently readings. You might get some recommendations! It was my first time doing an “It’s Monday! What are You Reading?” Post.

    All the best,


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