________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 38. . . .June 9, 2017


How Nivi Got Her Names.

Laura Deal. Illustrated by Charlene Chua.
Iqaluit, NU, Inhabit Media, 2017.
32 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-77227-137-9.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Jill Griffith

*** /4



Nivi’s mom paused. She then looked right at Nivi and said, “We all love you, dear Nivi, for all that you are. For the names that you have, for the character and traits we see in you, and the people we are reminded of when we are with you.


Nivi has always known that her names were special, but she does not know where they came from. So, one sunny afternoon, Nivi decides to ask her mom how she got her names. The stories of the people Nivi is named after lead her to an understanding of traditional Inuit naming practices and knowledge of what those practices mean to Inuit. (From Inhabit Media’s marketing materials).


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.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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