Borders by Thomas King, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Borders by Thomas King | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Thomas King publishing his first graphic novel — get a sneak peek now | CBC  Books

Summary:  A boy tells the story of his family in the present and through a series of flashbacks.  His older sister Laetitia, growing bored with life on the Blackfoot reserve in Alberta, moves to Salt Lake City.  The boy and his mother decide to visit her.  At the border, they’re asked for their citizenship, and the mother replies, “Blackfoot.”  This is not an acceptable answer for crossing the border into the U.S., nor will it allow them back into Canada, and the two of them are stuck at the crossing for days.  Finally, after the media descends on the station, the boy and his mother are allowed to cross into the United States.  They visit Laetitia, who has come to appreciate her family and heritage more and is considering returning home, before an uneventful trip back to Canada.  192 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  This brief but powerful graphic novel, based on a short story by the author, provides plenty of food for thought about the artificial nature of nations and borders and the impact they have on indigenous people who lived in those places long before the nations existed.  

Cons:  Several reviews recommend this for grades 3 and up, but in my opinion, the language and content make it more of a middle school book. It’s a deceptively simple story that younger kids may not fully grasp.

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