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Missing Nimama

by Melanie Florence
illustrated by François Thisdale

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native canadian, violence, stories in verse
list price: $19.95
also available: Hardcover
published: 2015
publisher: Clockwise Press
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Kateri is a young girl, growing up in the care of her grandmother. We see her reaching important milestones her first day of school, first dance, first date, wedding, first child along with her mother, who is always there, watching her child growing up without her.

Told in alternating voices, Missing Nimama is a story of love, loss, and acceptance, showing the human side of a national tragedy. An afterword by the author provides a simple, ageappropriate context for young readers.

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Nôhkom is teaching me to make fry bread. I stand on a chair at the kitchen counter and measure flour into her green mixing bowl.
"Your mother loved to cook with me when she was your age," she says.
"Does my mother speak Cree?" I ask.
"She does," nôhkom says. "Just like you."
"Did you tell her trickster stories, like you tell me?"
"Of course, kamâmakos. She liked Wisahkecahk stories best."
"Just like me!" I say. "Did you teach her beadwork and shawl dance?"
"I did." Nôhkom smiles at me. "Your mother is a beautiful dancer, Kateri. Just like you."
"Can we look at your photo albums, nôhkom?" I ask. She smiles as she takes one off the shelf. I climb off my chair and onto her lap and turn the pages, looking at my mother. When she was little, she looked just like me.

Thank you, nimama. Thank you for taking care of my child after raising your own.
Thank you for cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and buying birthday gifts and drying tears.
Thank you for telling Kateri about me.
For sharing stories about her mother with her.
For reminding her how much very I love her.
For not letting her forget me.

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Contributor notes

Melanie Florence
is an Aboriginal writer based in Toronto. Her nonfiction books for young people include Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuit to play in the NHL and, most recently, Native Residental Schools for the series Righting Canada's Wrongs. Finding Nimama is Melanie's first picture book.

Francois Thisdale
is the awardwinning illustrator of several picture books including the highly acclaimed The Stamp Collector , Bird Child , and Nini , which he also authored.

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Editorial Review

"A free-verse intergenerational story of separation, loss, and daughter-mother connection amid the ongoing crisis of missing First Nations girls and women. . . On each page, Cree author Florence presents two narratives: Kateri's and her missing nimâmâ's. By juxtaposing the daughter's and mother's thoughts and feelings in complementary verse, Florence provides them the opportunity to experience life together from their respective points of view and to talk to each other from a distance. Thisdale's soft-edged, wistful artwork enriches the heartfelt story, strongly capturing the passage of time and Kateri's emotional journey. An afterword is appended, offering simple and relevant information as well as statistics of missing and murdered indigenous girls and women; together with the story, it should help to begin a conversation with young readers. A solid debut picture book that works as a record of voices that are usually unheard, ignored, and forgotten."
Kirkus Reviews

"A touching story related from the point of view of a missing indigenous woman as she watches her daughter grow up without her."
Quill and Quire

Missing Nimama is heartbreaking. It's soulful and breathtakingly painful, and all the more so because of Melanie Florence's free verse text. Never have I read free verse so aptly applied in a picture book. Melanie Florence, an Aborginal writer, has demonstrated a powerful skill at creating rhythmic emotions with words. The tugs at the heart are aching for the story they tell and the artistry with which François Thisdale tells it. The matching of François Thisdale's art with Melanie Florence's text is wondrous. . . His choice of colours and the ability to enrich stark outdoor scenes of yards and forests and simply furnished indoor rooms create ghostly landscapes that epitomize the shadows of a girl's longing for her mother, a mother lost but never, never forgotten.
Missing Nimama is a haunting story of lives lost and lived and shared, beautifully rendered in words and art. Expect to see this one on award lists in the near future.
CanLit for LittleCanadians


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About the Authors

Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence is a Cree/Scottish writer whose books have won several awards. Her book Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuk to Play in the NHL was chosen as an Honor Book by The American Indian Library Association. Her first picture book, Missing Nimama, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. She is also the author of Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools. Melanie lives with her husband and two children in Toronto.
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François Thisdale

François Thisdale has been creating images for children's books for thirty years. His art consists of a unique blend of drawing, photography, and richly textured painting. François' work has won, among others, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the Notable Books for a Global Society Award (Missing Nimâmâ), and the IBBY Honor List (The Stamp Collector). That Squeak by Carolyn Beck was a finalist for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, and was selected as an Honor Book for the Elizabeth-Mrazik Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award. His most recent book, Poetree, was authored by two-time Governor General's Award winner, Caroline Pignat.
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