Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.
. . .the strong, boldly colored artwork. . . provides the clear and often heartbreaking truths about this brave woman's journey to literacy.--Sally Bender"salsfictionaddiction.blogspot.com" (08/10/2010)
Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.... Olemaun stays at the school for two years, during which she learns to deal with the torment and ridicule. One nun in particular...seems determined to break Olemaun's spirit.... The way in which Olemaun chooses to deal with her humiliation and face her tormentor are inspiring to anyone who has ever felt different... Fatty Legs is targeted at early readers with its large print and beautiful art, but the message and story itself can be appreciated by readers of all ages... While it is important to remember that Olemaun's story is just one experience of those who attended residential schools in the North during the 1950s and 60s, and that many suffered traumatic experiences there, Olemaun's story is not only one of despair at the way she was treated, but hope and resilience in how she refused to let others break her spirit. This book is definitely worth having in a public library. [starred review] A moving and believable account. Presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl's triumph over her oppressors. Margaret's character is engaging--her persistence, her strength, and her curiosity touch the reader. Presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl's triumph over her oppressors. I highly recommend this book for the discussion it would stir with students...Makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth. An excellent addition to any biography collection, the book is fascinating and unique, and yet universal in its message. This book makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth. A perfect companion to the study of First Nations issues, this story helps readers empathize with a real person whose determination never waivers in the face of adversity.
Archival photos from Margaret's collection give readers a sense of immediacy for the story being told and the strong, boldly colored artwork of Liz Amini-Holmes provides the clear and often heartbreaking truths about this brave woman's journey to literacy--Sally Bender"salsfictionaddiction.blogspot.com" (08/10/2010)
But more than a story of triumph, Fatty Legs fills a teaching resource void for middle readers, especially in recent years as Canada has worked to become more familiar and empathetic with what happened in residential schools.--Robyn Smith"The Tyee" (07/30/2012)