Author: Bruchac, Joseph
Twelve-year-old Malian lives with her grandparents on a Wabanaki reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic and ends up befriending one of the dogs there.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (05/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (07/09/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/06/21)
The Hornbook (00/09/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/15/2021 Malian, a Wabanaki girl, can’t go home to her parents in Boston because she must shelter in place with her grandparents on the rez, thanks to being caught there by the COVID-19 pandemic during a weekend visit. She loves her grandparents but is often bored. That changes one morning when she wakes up and sees the rez dog outside, just as she had dreamed he would be. When it becomes obvious that he has adopted the family and become its self-appointed protector, Malian names him Malsum, the old name for a wolf. Noted Abenaki author Bruchac limns Malian’s growing friendship with the dog in this accomplished novel in verse. Episodic in structure, it captures the family’s daily lives and shares the grandparents’ traditional stories, ensuring that a connection remains between them and the natural world. Readers also learn about injustices visited on Native peoples and hear Malian’s white teacher’s declaration that “we need to learn more of each other’s stories.” With this gentle book, Bruchac offers children another story to expand their worlds and hearts. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 07/09/2021 Gr 3–8—Malian's weekend trip to visit her grandparents, who live on a reservation, lasted much longer than anticipated. While her parents were sheltering in place in Boston, Malian, an eighth grade Penacook girl, was trying to keep herself and her grandparents safe from COVID-19. In this verse novel, Bruchac takes a look at life in lockdown through the eyes of Malian, who copes with boredom, isolation, and the need to find her place. She befriends a dog, whom she names Malsum, meaning wolf. Like other dogs on the reservation, Malsum, unlike city dogs, is free to roam. Though it isn't always easy to make responsible choices like not seeing friends and trying to catch up on school assignments despite spotty connectivity, Malian finds that Malsum's friendship helps even if he can't solve everything. Many readers will connect with Malian's experience. In addition, the text provides a dose of history, including an introduction to residential schools, relocation, forced sterilization, and more contemporary issues such as racial justice and the disproportionate way that COVID-19 spread in marginalized communities. VERDICT A contemporary novel in verse that deftly handles weighty issues and provides readers a story they can connect with during a pandemic, with a dose of hope for the future.—Monisha Blair, formerly at Rutgers Univ., NJ - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.