When I Was Eight


Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. Ignoring her father’s warnings, she travels far from her Arctic home to the outsiders’ school to learn. The nuns at the school call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do menial chores, but she remains undaunted. Her tenacity draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But the young girl is more determined than ever to learn how to read.

Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to younger readers. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.

  • 32 pages
  • Ages 6-9


When I Was Eight is a picture book adaptation of the early/middle grade chapter book Fatty Legs, telling the true story of Olemaun as she ventures into the dangerous territory of residential schools in northern Canada.

The story has been made less frightening for younger readers with warmer illustrations.

It still presents residential schools as a scary place, and serves as a quality introduction for children to a very mature subject. It also tells more about the value Olemaun had in learning to read and offers more encouragement in literacy.

Suitable for Grade 2-5.

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Additional information

Weight .123 kg
Dimensions 23.0 × 23.0 × 0.3 cm
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