Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids

256p. photos. websites. Groundwood. 2013. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-120-5; ebook $14.95. ISBN 978-1-55498-413-8.
Gr 9 Up—Ellis's commitment to giving voice to young people, especially marginalized or underserved youth, is evident in this collection of interviews with children from various indigenous cultures throughout Canada and the United States. Here, children as young as nine tell stories about their identity and what it means to them to be Native or Aboriginal. Many of the accounts are harrowing to read. Alcoholic parents, lives spent in and out of foster homes, and bigotry and discrimination are an almost daily part of their lives; yet most of the children express hope for a better future for themselves and find ways to immerse themselves in their traditional culture through art, language, dance, and/or connections with community elders. Ellis's transcriptions of these interviews allow the authentic voices of the young people to come through, and brief introductions providing context and, in some cases, historical information, are enormously helpful and insightful. With many of the children dealing with similar issues, stories can begin to feel repetitive and occasionally confusing, hence weakening the impact of some individual tellings, though educators looking to use this book with students will find some real gems to share with groups. The stories are not organized in any discernible manner, neither by age nor affiliation, and the result feels almost random and chaotic. Important and provocative, this is a good choice for libraries wanting to add a contemporary, youthful perspective on issues affecting indigenous people in North America.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Personal stories powerfully lay out the challenges and accomplishments of native groups such as the Cree in Ontario; the Oglala Band of Lakota Sioux in South Dakota; and the Duckwater Shoshone tribe in Nevada. As the children and teens describe their backgrounds and daily lives, both tragic and inspirational themes emerge. For example, the residual effects of institutional racism, as well as the prevalence of suicide and drug use among Native American youth reoccur, alongside involvement in sports, environmental activism, and native culture. The interviewees are honest and relatable. For instance, thirteen-year-old Tyrone from Winnipeg, Manitoba, talks about missing his older brother, who has been in jail for three months: “Maybe I could write to him. I don’t know what I’d say, but I want him to know I haven’t forgotten him.” The book reveals harsh realities as well as encouraging signs. Each of Deborah Ellis’s chapter introductions provides statistics and historical information with assessments of overarching issues, while the interviewees’ concluding paragraphs emphasize their advice and goals.

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