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Little voice
2001
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Summary
Eleven-year-old Ray feels like a misfit at school and in her family. Things have been hard for her family since her father's accidental death in a logging accident, and Ray has been unable to express her grief. In school, the green eyes she inherited from her father are unusual for a child from an Ojibway background in a northern Ontario town and get her noticed in ways she doesn't enjoy. At home, Ray believes that her mother, grieving herself and busy with Ray's younger brother and sister, no longer needs her. Ray becomes so withdrawn that at times she hardly speaks.

Then Ray gets the chance she's been longing for: to spend a summer in the bush with her beloved grandmother--fishing, camping, and living off the land. During this visit, guided by her grandmother's sure hands, compassionate wisdom, and unfailing sense of humour, Ray begins a marvellous journey. Her grandmother, Agnes, a skilled healer respected in her small community, is the mentor and teacher Ray needs. She sees Ray's need to find her own identity and voice and begins to help her learn traditional skills.

At the end of this beautiful and empowering story, which begins in 1978, the withdrawn green-eyed girl has found her voice and is not afraid to use it.

Ruby Slipperjackhas three novels to her credit: Weesquachak and the Lost Ones, Silent Words, and Honour the Sun. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
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School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-Part of a series designed to provide Canadian children of neither French nor English descent with novels mirroring their own life experiences, this book tells the story of a the child of an Ojibway mother and a Caucasian father. Ray, 10, feels out of place in her own skin, and the death of her father and her family's subsequent poverty further serve to separate her from her peers. The girl tells of her anger and isolation. She states that the children at school do not like her, that the teachers do not understand her, but the action does not illustrate these circumstances. Ray eventually becomes estranged from her family when her mother marries a man with two sons of his own. Her only solace comes from visits to her grandmother, a medicine woman who lives a nomadic existence in the wilderness. Unfortunately, a potentially interesting coming-of-age story is hindered by narration in the passive voice that tells, rather than shows, the actions and emotions of the characters. The plot meanders seemingly without purpose until Ray realizes that her grandmother has chosen her as a protg. Feeling accepted and needed, she finds peace. Because her angst is never really felt by readers, the resolution falls flat.-Rita Hunt Smith, Hershey Public Library, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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