First Nation Communities Read Program Announces 2011-2012 Book Selection

Last month, the First Nation Communities Read program announced that Fatty Legs: A True Story is its 2011-2012 Aboriginal title selection for community reading. Fatty Legs: A True Story written by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes, and published by Annick Press is a memoir based on a 60-year-old secret. The book introduces eight-year-old Olemaun (later known as Margaret) Pokiak, an Inuit girl from Banks Island, Northwest Territories. Desperate to learn to read, she excitedly embraces the idea of going to a distant residential school, even in the face of her family’s strong reluctance to send her. Fatty Legs deftly interweaves themes of independence and human dignity with those of oppression and bullying. The result is a rich, spirited, and inspirational account of Olemaun/Margaret’s two years in Aklavik.

A six-member jury of librarians from First Nation public libraries in Ontario, with coordination support from Southern Ontario Library Service, made the 2011-2012 First Nation Communities Read selection from 29 titles submitted by 13 publishers from across Canada. The publishers had responded to the program’s first-ever call for adult and young adult titles only. Jury members commended Fatty Legs: A True Story for adding an Inuit voice and experience to the residential school record in a text that is easily accessible to readers across generations.

The First Nation Communities Read program, launched in 2003, is the Ontario First Nation public library community’s contribution to the popular community reading movement. Through its featured Aboriginal titles, First Nation Communities Read encourages family literacy and intergenerational storytelling, and promotes the publication, sharing, and understanding of Aboriginal voices and experiences.

The First Nation Communities Read program’s announcement of Fatty Legs: A True Story as its 2011-2012 selected title was timed to contribute to Canadian Library Month (October) and Ontario Public Library Week (October 16-22) celebrations.

Public libraries in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, British Columbia, and the Yukon will receive the 2011-12 First Nation Communities Read poster. The poster promotes Fatty Legs: A True Story and 19 other titles the 2011-2012 jury endorses as “Aboriginal Titles Recommended for Adults and Young Adults.” First Nation Communities Read encourages libraries of all types across Canada to buy Fatty Legs: A True Story as well as all the other poster-featured titles and celebrate them through displays, readings, and programming.

Later this year, First Nation Communities Read plans to issue a submissions call for its 2012-2013 program. The focus for 2012-2013 will be Aboriginal titles for children.

Books previously selected by the First Nation Communities Read program are:

  • 2010: Long Powwow Nights (English edition) / Nuits de pow-wow (French edition) by David Bouchard and Pam Aleekuk, illustrated by Leonard Paul, and published by Red Deer Press.
  • 2009: Which Way Should I Go?, written by Sylvia Olsen with Ron Martin, illustrated by Kasia Charko, and published by Sono Nis Press
  • 2008: Ancient Thunder, written and illustrated by Leo Yerxa and published by Groundwood Books
  • 2007: No selection. Program temporarily suspended.
  • 2006: As Long as the Rivers Flow, written by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund, and published by Groundwood Books
  • 2005: SkySisters, written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Brian Deines, and published by Kids Can Press
  • 2004: Solomon’s Tree, inspired by Tsimpshian master carver Victor Reece, written by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Janet Wilson and published by Orca Book Publishers
  • 2003: Dragonfly Kites, written by Tomson Highway, illustrated by Brian Deines, and published by HarperCollins Canada

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For more information about the First Nation Communities Read program, contact:

Patty Lawlor | First Nations Consultant | Southern Ontario Library Service
416-961-1669, ext. 5108 | |

For more information about Fatty Legs: A True Story, its authors, and illustrator, contact:

Brigitte Waisberg | Marketing Manager | Annick Press
416- 221-4802, ext. 17 | |