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2018 Nominee

I Am Not A Number

By Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Published in 2016 by Second Story Press

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.

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17 thoughts on “I Am Not A Number

  1. Coalbanks Elementary

    I thought it was really good. it was also really sad, but more sad because we now know this really happened. and it is really short but it gives us a good knowledge of the residential schools and how they were treated.

  2. coalbanks elementary

    it is a pretty good book, it is a nice quick read but it is sad. there is just the right amount of text and there are nice big pictures.

  3. Hillhurst School

    When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick.Irene arrives the nuns give her a number as her name to be identified as. This sadly happened to aboriginal children from 1884 to 1996.
    This review
    includes recommendation to all ⅘ GATE students.
    This work helps us to understand the issue about residential school and why we should stop them. There are many facts about these types of schools.
    The back page is even about her wise father who is a leader.
    The writing style is very clear and straightforward. It explains the punishments in residential schools very nicely
    Something I do not enjoy about the book is the saying expresses a dark and sad topic, but this is a problem our First Nations face.
    This book’s purpose is highly necessary that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to it has been achieved very successfully in my opinion.
    The theme of the book is quite obvious and has a meaning.
    When comparing this book to other titles, I am not a number has a true meaning expressing in a clear and concise way about our culture’s beliefs our diversity and who we are.
    In conclusion, I think I am not a number is highly necessary as a book and narrates residential schools in a good way.

    -Ivelyn,Hillhurst school,Calgary,Alberta.

  4. Hillhurst school

    I think this book can really teach you how residential schools work and how it is like to live in a residential school in a way that makes it a story, that is fun to read. I believe all grade 4/5 students should read I Am Not A Number because it shares a lot and it lets you learn how residential schools worked in the past and maybe still now.

    I think the purpose of the book is to have everyone being able to understand residential schools and know that kids shouldn’t be taken away from their family and culture. I believe the purpose of this book has been achieved because it shows how residential schools work in the way of a story and it shows that neither the parents nor the kids want to leave their family and culture behind.

    The issue is residential schools don’t treat kids well and take the kids right to speak their cultural language away from them. The issue we are understanding from this is many kids both in the past and present are being taken from their homes and into a residential school where they don’t feed the children as well as parents do at home and punish those who don’t speak english their just like a slave would be treated.

    In my opinion the book does raise an issue for discussion because residential schools weren’t nice to children and many children go into residential schools. Two things I think residential schools are very similar to is prison except with kids and they also learn. The other thing I think is very similar to is a slave factory except in a slave factory you work and in a residential school you learn but two things both of the torture does is they punish you if you do something wrong.

    I think some evidence could be left out because the book does show many facts about residential schools but doesn’t show evidence behind the facts. The books facts let you learn a lot but they don’t have any evidence behind them. That is why I think the author has left out some of the evidence for residential schools and the book itself.

    The writing style is clear because you can understand what the author is trying to say. The writing style is effective because when you read it you are able to understand what it’s trying to say and understand what the author is trying to teach you or let you no. I think the way the author wrote the book helped me learn a lot about residential schools and helped realize, residential schools don’t treat schools like normal schools do.

    The theme of the book is obvious because the book’s topic is obviously residential schools and residential schools can put up so many themes. An example of a theme, is residential schools aren’t enjoyable, as well as even more that could be made by someone else that read the book. This is why I feel like the theme of this book is really obvious.

    To compare this book, I will compare it too a book called “They Called Me Number One. I will compare these two books because their titles are both about numbers (students in residential schools are referred to as numbers) and both are about residential schools. I think “I Am Not A Number” is superior because it teaches how residential schools work in a story format and “They Called Me A Number” because it goes more deep and could also get a little sad at many times. I Am Not A Number does get a little sad in the middle but does cheer up a few pages after and finishes with a quite happy ending with the family entirely together.

    I think this book is a great book to read because it has information that will help you learn but puts the information into the format of a story and makes it full of some stressful parts and some happy and relaxed parts. I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.

    -Cynthea Hillhurst school Calgary, Alberta

  5. Hillhurst School

    I am not a number is a really good book for children. It is very interesting and a sad story. It is very educational and is a good story for little children to be grateful of what they have.

  6. Wildwood

    I thought I Am Not a Number was an amazing book. I loved that Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer told the story about a girl and her brothers going to a residential school, then telling you how life was inside it. I would give this book a 5 out of 5. I just loved it. The fact that she didn’t forget anything about her family, and their ways just touched me. That is what I thought about I Am Not a Number.

  7. Hawkwood School

    I really liked this book. It taught me about a part of Canada’s history that I did not know about before I read this book.

  8. Hillhurst School

    I am not a number is a great book that teaches you a lot about Residential Schools and passes on a very important message. The book talks about a little girl named Irene and her brothers get send to Residential School. She becomes separated from her brothers, due to different genders and she gets terribly homesick. She misses the food her mother makes, how his father leads the tribe, and the language that she speaks.
    When she came home, the food tastes weird in her mouth and so does the language. Residential School has taken this all away from her and her brothers.
    The author did a great job writing this book about her grandma Irene. Her writing style is very clear and she explains how Irene feels at that time very well. The author is also Native, so she understands how much it really affected their identity as first nations and Canada’s history.
    This book is recommended for kids ages 7-11

  9. Springbank Middle School

    I thought the book was devastating but it really made me realize exactly how horrible residential schools were. I think Jenny captured what it was like perfectly (but how would I know) and I think I was Important to let people know what really happened so that we don’t ever make these mistakes ever again. I adore Jenny’s storytelling skills and the effect of the illustrations. in the end definitely, top 5. Joceline

  10. G.S Lakie Middle School

    This book was soooooooo good I liked the idea and it was really Inspiring hopefully is makes the top 5


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