Fatty Legs

Fatty Legs

A True Story

Book - 2010
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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.
Publisher: Toronto : Annick Press, c2010
ISBN: 9781554512478
Branch Call Number: JUV 371.829 POK 2010
Characteristics: 104 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), ports. (some col.), col. map ; 24 cm


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May 05, 2021

This is a deceptively short book, and while it does go quickly, I could see this being used very effectively in classrooms from lower elementary to 8th grade no problem, because the subject it tackles is so very complex and emotionally charged.

Olemaun Pokiak admires her older half-sister, who is plucked from their home on Banks Island, in northern Canada, to attend a school in Aklavik (on the mainland) run by Belgian nuns. She admires, in particular, that her sister can read Alice in Wonderland, and she longs to learn to read, too.

But her father won't let her go, and holds off until Olemaun is 10 before he finally capitulates. When she arrives, she's older than the other girls and bigger. The nuns cut her braids off, make her change into impractical, in the freezing cold, school uniforms, and her tights perpetually are too small and don't cover her legs well.

The girls do a ton of menial work in the hospital next to the school, but very little learning. She's bullied ceaselessly by The Raven, a nun with a hooked beak of a nose, and made to wear red-colored tights that make her legs look fat.

They're forced to write fake letters home, saying they're doing well and want to remain, because the sisters are paid based on how many students are at the school. They're taken to talk about their school experiences to a radio station, but they're told to recite lines from untruthful scripts. Refusing to lie, and to get a message to her family that she desperately wants to go home, Margaret stands mute before the microphone.

But it's no good; her message of silence is not heard, and it's years before her father shows up to take her home.

Sep 29, 2020

Everybody should know the dark history of Canada if you are a parent read it for your child if you are a Canadian ( I am not being mean or harsh )

Aug 05, 2019

This book is great for learning about the past in Canada. It was an amazing book. I strongly recommend.

ArapahoeStaff29 Jul 06, 2018

This is a great introduction to the reality and injustices of Canadian residential schools. This individual Inuit girls story is of course softened for the children's book but still resonates and helps to keep this important issue from being forgotten.

Apr 11, 2018

I wondered why the daughter-in-law got co-authorship with the mother-in-law, as she has no obvious connection (besides marriage), no first hand experience with subject, or writing qualifications. The illustrations are lovely, but add little to the story, in fact, often I wondered what a word meant, or what a scene must have looked like, but no corresponding drawing, although sometimes footnotes. The photos were small, and the labels smaller, and grouped at the back; repetitive to story.

May 18, 2017

Buy this book for an adolescent you know.

vpl_childrens Aug 04, 2016

The true story of a young Inuvialuit girl who goes to residential school to learn to read but is cruelly bullied by a nun who makes her wear red stockings when all the other students wear grey. Despite harsh treatment, Olemaun, renamed Margaret, remains strong in spirit. The story is beautifully illustrated with both art and photos.

Oct 14, 2014

Although I have read stories on such situations. It give a great insight to a girl's struggle to be strong in difficult situations. Her strong "never give up" attitude is protrayed well. I loved reading the book.

Jul 07, 2014

great book, i loved the part where she got rid of the big fat stockings. Again great book

Jul 04, 2013

I loved this book. Margaret was so brave to stand up to the nuns and just ignore them. If that would have been me I would be freaked out. And the other girl, I think you know who I mean, was such a brat. I wanted to slap her so bad man. Overall this book was amazing but not my type. I'll rate it 3 and a half stars. Good book!

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Jul 29, 2019

gpb101 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Mar 29, 2018

Cobin thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over


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Sep 28, 2020

The Raven thought she was there to teach me a few things, but in the end, I think it was she who learned a lesson: Be careful what birds you choose to pluck from their nests. A wren can be just as clever as a raven (p 74).


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