Review of This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold
by various authors; illus. by various artists
Middle School, High School    HighWater    265 pp.
5/19    Paper ed.  978-1-55379-758-6    $36.00

e-book ed.  978-1-55379-782-1    $29.00

This comics anthology celebrates Indigenous peoples and stories of Canada past, present, and future. In a foreword, writer Alicia Elliott asserts that Indigenous people have lived in a “post-apocalyptic world” ever since “the moment colonialism started to creep across these lands.” Resistance, resilience, and the stories of heroic leaders and movements are portrayed in ten chapters, presented in chronological order. “Annie of Red River” by Katherena Vermette, with illustrations by Scott B. Henderson, takes place in 1869; “Warrior Nation” by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, with illustrations by Andrew Lodwick, takes readers through to the twenty-first century. A variety of illustrative and narrative styles spotlights Indigenous experiences and perspectives on raids, protests, the horrors of the child welfare system, and more. Every chapter employs the same introductory framework, which includes an author’s note and a timeline putting the events of the story into broader context; this continuity pulls the tales together despite their stylistic differences. The comics formatting and art are mostly functional, but there are moments of innovative splendor, as seen in “Rosie” (written by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley and illustrated by GMB Chomichuk), where icy blues and greens accentuate the Arctic setting. Back matter includes extensive citations and biographies of the contributors. Ambitious in scope and strong in execution, this collection succeeds in prompting readers to remember (or learn) Indigenous history and consider: “how are you a hero already? And what will your story be?”

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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