CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 38. . . .June 9, 2017
How Nivi Got Her Names is a book that is dense with both story and information. On the one hand, it is a story of Nivi and how she got her names, and, on the other hand, it is a book filled with information on adoption and naming customs of the Inuit. There is a lengthy introduction, a page “About Inuit Kinship and Naming Customs”, two pages of Nivi’s Namesakes with a short biography of each, and a glossary/pronunciation guide of Inuit words that appear throughout the story. It is one of those titles with which library staff grapple because it is equal parts story and information and could be put on either or both fiction and nonfiction shelves.
Laura Deal wrote this story for her three-year-old daughter who was adopted through Inuit custom adoption. Although the story is written for/about a child who is three-years-old, the information is overwhelming for a preschooler and better suited for a school aged child who will understand the concepts. It also strikes me as a “keepsake” book for children who have been through the custom adoption process, or even the adoption process; but the story could also be read as a conversation starter with children to talk about their ancestry, how they got their own names, and how their customs differ from Inuit customs.
Charlene Chua’s gentle illustrations help to unify the concepts in the story quite clearly. The reader is able to grasp the concepts of Nivi’s ancestry by viewing the photographs in the story of loving, smiling and welcoming namesakes of both Nova Scotian and Inuit relatives. I particularly like the illustrations that depict Nivi’s namesakes surrounding her in circles of love and family.
The messages of love, respect and identity are important ones and ultimately make How Nivi Got Her Names relatable to all children. It can be read as both a story and an information book, and it could be used effectively in classrooms to teach concepts of heritage, community, history and family.
Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.