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list price: $9.95
also available: eBook Hardcover
category: Children's Nonfiction
published: Jan 2014
publisher: Annick Press

Not My Girl

by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton

tagged: native canadian, native american, parents

Margaret can’t wait to see her family, but her homecoming is not what she expected.

Two years ago, Margaret left her Arctic home for the outsiders’ school. Now she has returned and can barely contain her excitement as she rushes towards her waiting family—but her mother stands still as a stone. This strange, skinny child, with her hair cropped short, can’t be her daughter. “Not my girl!” she says angrily.

Margaret’s years at school have changed her. Now ten years old, she has forgotten her language and the skills to hunt and fish. She can’t even stomach her mother’s food. Her only comfort is in the books she learned to read at school.

Gradually, Margaret relearns the words and ways of her people. With time, she earns her father’s trust enough to be given a dogsled of her own. As her family watches with pride, Margaret knows she has found her place once more.

Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by evocative illustrations, Not My Girl makes the original, award-winning memoir, A Stranger at Home, accessible to younger children. It is also a sequel to the picture book When I Was Eight. A poignant story of a determined young girl’s struggle to belong, it will both move and inspire readers everywhere.

About the Authors

Christy Jordan-Fenton lives in Fort St. John, British Columbia. Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is her children’s grandmother. Jordan-Fenton practices traditional ceremonies with the Kainai Blackfoot.

Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton is an Inuvialuk elder and artisan who spent her early years on Banks Island in the high Arctic. She now lives in Fort St. John, British Columbia.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
6 to 9
1 to 4
Reading age:
6 to 9
  • Short-listed, Information Book Award, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
  • Commended, Skipping Stones Honor Award
  • Short-listed, da Vinci Eye Award
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Award
  • Joint winner, USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List
  • Joint winner, Storytelling World Award
  • Commended, Eric Hoffer Award, Honorable Mention
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Editorial Reviews

“Pokiak-Fenton’s emotionally honest writing is affecting and heartbreaking.”

— National Reading Campaign, Readerly, 02/20/14

“A difficult and emotional story . . . that is relatable and engaging for young readers.”

— CM Reviews, 06/13/14

“An excellent volume that should be included in public and elementary school collections.”

— The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 02/15

“The trio again transforms painful, unfortunate memories into another enduring story of resilience, tenderness, and unconditional love.”

— BookDragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, 04/16/14

“A great way to introduce important questions about identity and ethics to young readers and is, additionally, a pleasure for the eyes.”

— Montreal Review of Books, Fall/14

“Told simply, and with clarity . . . It is written with honor, and with tremendous feeling for the loss [Margaret] shares with so many other children.” 

— Sal’s Fiction Addiction, 02/16/14

“Another compelling version of an inspiring story.”

— Kirkus, *starred review, 05/28/14

“Culturally relevant, accurate, and soft, painterly illustrations . . . reinforce the bittersweet and tender reunion of Olemaun with her family.”

— School Library Journal, 09/01/14

“The illustrations . . . are bold and captivating . . . You can feel the emotion of each person through their faces.”

— Resource Links, 06/14

“Not to be missed.”

— Canlit for Little Canadians, 04/17/14

“A deeply felt exploration of identity and cultural crisis rendered as a deep, satisfying sigh appropriate for sharing aloud.”

— The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 08/14

Buy this book at:


Top  Grade
Librarian review

Not My Girl

After two years away from home at a residential school, Margaret returns to her Arctic home only to find that she no longer fits in.

Knowing how to read, write, and add numbers does not impress Margaret’s family when she returns to her Arctic home. Margaret is now an outsider and must re-learn the ways of her family (language, food, and behaviour). When using this sequel to When I Was Eight, teachers and students can discuss the themes of loss, family, and belonging.

Also available: When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

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