Melanie Florence is an award-winning Cree/Scottish writer. 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 and several YA novels, including The Missing. Melanie lives with her husband and two children in Toronto.
Melanie Florence's Website
Gabrielle Grimard uses various media to research and create the illustrations for a book, but her favorite aspect will always be color. She uses mainly watercolors, gouache and oil. She adds a touch of wooden pencil for the details. She has illustrated dozens of books and has been nominated for several awards. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Gabrielle Grimard's Website
Florence's tender text soothes the harsh reality of having Native language stolen while attending one of Canada's former residential schools for Indigenous children. Grimard's equally emotive illustrations show the stark realities of the experience in symbolic images... Unforgettable. (Starred Review) - Kirkus Reviews
... Stolen Words, from Melanie Florence, is one man’s emotional tale of strength, hope, and healing, shedding light on the continued repercussions of the horrific residential schools that separated indigenous children from their families and heritage in the name of cultural assimilation. In color and gray scale, Gabrielle Grimard’s moving watercolors capture the bittersweet journey while looking to the future. - Foreword Reviews
... a sobering ode to [Florence's] heritage, presented through eyes filled with love and hope... Word by word, her story—written in honor of her Cree grandfather—is a significant step toward forever healing. (Starred Review) - Shelf Awareness
...an emotionally charged series of interactions and memories that are pure Melanie Florence. They will astound readers and sadden them, while encouraging healing and learning without shame or anger. - CanLit for Little Canadians
"Stolen Words” would be an asset to any home or school library. It is a very powerful tool to educate both Indigenous and non-indigenous readers about the long lasting effects of the residential school system. - Anishinabek News
An emotional read, as the illustrations show mothers waving goodbye to their children and words being lost. As Grandfather revisits his native first language, the words fly back.... Recommended. - School Library Journal
This sensitive, beautifully illustrated picture book deftly explores the inter-generational impact of Canada's residential school system... "Stolen Words" is unreservedly and emphatically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. - Midwest Book Review
In this poignant picture book about the devastating legacy of residential schools, author Melanie Florence presents the story of a little girl who re-introduces her grandfather to his first language after he has spent many years without it. A simple text with tremendous emotional impact, the dialogue between child and adult inspires hope for younger generations along with admiration for a resilient and determined man whom we know will succeed in his quest to re-learn what has been lost.... While definitely geared towards young children, Stolen Words is a picture book that older readers will also appreciate for its historical significance, honesty, impactful language, and artful presentation. Highly recommended. - CM: Canadian Review of Materials
Quebec artist Gabrielle Grimard matches the author’s poignant but age-appropriate text with illustrations that clearly convey the girl’s concern for her grandfather’s feelings and her joy in finding a way to give him back his language – and learn it herself. - Ottawa Citizen
To say that Florence’s story has a happy ending is an oversimplification. Her text, combined with illustrator Gabrielle Grimard’s pictures, shows that language reclamation is a process – more complex than a simple case of lost and found.... Readers are left with the message that language has not been destroyed, only rendered dormant by its captivity. (Starred Review) - Quill & Quire
Florence's evocative text is enhanced by Gabrielle Grimard's sensitive watercolour, gouache, oil and pencil illustrations.... The final page, depicting the young girl walking hand in hand with her grandfather, exudes a sense of intergenerational love, resilience and hope. - Canadian Children's Book News
Gabrielle Grimard’s evocative watercolour illustrations are emotionally powerful.... Stolen Words tells a heartbreakingly honest story that all Canadians must hear. - National Reading Campaign
The simple text in Stolen Words has a powerful impact emotionally on the reader, but also inspires hope and courage as the child and adult embark on a journey of healing, through love, determination, and resiliency... It makes the reader reflect on the importance of culture, family, and one’s own identity… And with seeing this story through the eyes of a child, Stolen Words is highly effective as a powerful and dynamic narrative. - Resource Links
Melanie Florence's Stolen Words is a modern story, a hopeful exploration of one way the Cree people may begin to reclaim their language and culture.... While the story of how the Canadian government destroyed the lives of First Nations children is harsh, the subject is handled with dignity and love.... The illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard are suffused with warm tones of yellow, green, brown, the lines playful and full of movement. - Montreal Review of Books
As historical fiction, the book relies on strong positive memories of [the author's] grandfather, and researched facts about...residential school[s]. The characters are portrayed with genuine emotions in softly colored, mixed media illustrations. - Dr. Jeanie Burnett, Kutztown Review
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