Both books are very different but have the common thread of having a Native American influence, or backdrop. These would be great books to add to any collection. They both are fabulous examples of the meaning of friendship. I preferred When We Were Alone more than Grandpa’s Girls for several reasons. One reason I enjoyed it was the serious tone of the book. This might turn some people off, but even then, David Alexander Robertson has infused a great hopefulness as well.
When We Were Alone is a lovely story about how a grandmother and granddaughter share the present but do not forget the reasons that they do the things they do now. This is because of the grandmother’s past and how she wants to hold onto the things that make her special and connect her to her people. This is a soft and sweet tale that deals the results one child had with the schools many Native children were sent to that were to “educate them” to be “like everyone else.” And at the same time, Robertson tells us that no one is ever truly alone when they have their traditions, language, and family. Julie Flett’s illustrations reflect the tone of the book. When color is needed (like with the grandmother’s outfit) it pops off the page, flowing and bold. Yet, there are also the browns, darkness, and gray. When color is used it is a symbol of something important. You can also get this as Ispík Kákí Péyakoyak/When We Were Alone (Bilingual Edition, Swampy Cree/English) version.
And I did enjoy Grandpa’s Girls by Nicola I. Campbell, just for different reasons. The narrator of the story loves spending time with her grandfather and cousins. Their culture and family come alive as they explore, swing on ropes in the barn, tease the neighbor’s pig and sneak into Grandpas special room where you cand find his ribbons, medals, and other photos. This connection to family and the history that is around them is tastefully presented. If I have one complaint, is I would have liked at least a glossary to explain some of the words. While most could be figured from the context, it would have been nice to have that confirmation.
Kim Lafaye’s illustrations create light-hearted and familiar images. Soft colors and minimal details are relaxing. Color and shading are used to move things along as well. Grandpa’s Girls will be a fun read for most ages. As an adult reader, there were a few “holes” in the story, but te kid in me likes this. The illustrations help with any “dislike of story” I have. A good read to read with grandchildren.
These books would be a great addition to school or personal libraries and really do fit most ages.