Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: Shannen and the Dream for a School by Janet Wilson

How can there still be children in Canada, who have to fight for a proper school, in the year 2011? This is the true story of Shannen Koostachin, and her friends who live in Attawapiskat, a Cree community on the coast of James Bay. Twenty years earlier, a fuel spill resulted in the closure of their school, forcing the children to attend schools in portables. The portables were so cold that the students often couldn’t take their mittens or jackets off, even in gym class. The government had promised to build a new school, but ten years later that promise was still unfulfilled. 

Shannen Koostachin was a remarkable girl who decided to do something about this terrible injustice. She and her classmates decided to take a trip to Ottawa, where Shannen made a passionate speech to the politicians. She urged them to take care of First Nations children, not just in Attawapiskat, but in every community where children were attending a proper school. They made a YouTube video about their situation. And they received support from children who lived thousands of miles away. 

This is another important title in the “A Kids’ Power Book” series, published by Second Story Press. It includes an epilogue, historical notes, timeline, glossary and a glossary of Cree words. “Shannen and the Dream for a School” is a moving and hopeful story about children making a difference. Like all the books in this series, after reading this story and seeing all the photos, I felt a strong connection with the children and their community.
In 2010 Shannen was killed in a car accident, so she never saw her dream of a new school come to fruition. She was 15 years old. Shannen believed that she and her friends could make a difference, and her dream continues today. This is a must-have book for every school library.

Reviewed by Maria Martella.

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