Sunday, March 20, 2011

Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting into Canada

Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada
Toronto, ON: Puffin Canada, 2010
183pp., hardcover $20.00
ISBN 978-0-670-06849-4
Subject Headings: Immigrants-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Authors, Canadian (English)-20th century-Biography-Juvenille literature.
Grades 7-12/ Ages 12-17

Highly Recommended
* Canadian Authors and Content

Piece by Piece: Stories about Fitting Into Canada
Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting into Canada is a young adult anthology featuring original stories by some of Canada's most distinguished authors who were born in another country and struggled to fit in when they moved to Canada. The authors share their personal experiences and feelings about belonging. An excellent addition to a school library and a valuable resource for teachers who are looking for a variety of perspectives about fitting in, overcoming obstacles, discrimination, and immigration to share with their students.
I have included a list of the contributors, and in some cases a glimpse into their stories, hardships, and celebrations about being Canadian.   

Red Maple Leaves: Svetlana Chmakova
Manga author born and rasied in Russia, and moved to Canada when she was sixteen years old. 

When we arrived, all we had were our hastily packed suitcases.
They weren't big enough to fit everything.
What I brought with me: clothes, books, my best drawings, diaries, and my stamp collection.
What we left behind: my older sister, my hometown, and a lifetime of memories.

Tales From the Twilight Zone:Richard Poplak
Author and director born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto.

Snapshots from the Fringes: Rachina Gilmore
Governor General's Award-winning author born in India.
It's difficult to come up with only a few snapshots of belonging because mostly I do belong. Canada and I have grown and evolved together, so that belonging is a status that is rarely jolted now, although it does still happen.

A Caravan of Words: Rachel Manley
Poet and author born in Cornwall England, grew up in Jamaica and now resides in Toronto.

You're Not From Around Here, Are You?: Linda Granfield
Canadian history author born in the United States of America.
When you are born in Canada, perhaps you never think about why others want to become Canadians. You don't know whether war, famine, cruel government regimes, jobs, or love drives people to Canada's shores. You might not even know the steps people take to become citizens. There are rules to be followed. Years to be lived in Canada. And tests to be taken.

One Foot in The Future: Alice Kuipers
Young adult author born in London England and now resides in Saskatoon, SK.

What Is For You, Is For You: Richardo Keens-Douglas
Actor, playwright, and storyteller born in Grenada.
I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. When they realized my heart was set in performing, and there was not way of learning that "drama stuff" on the island, they sent me to Montreal to study theatre. I was nineteen, and I will never forget the surprise when I landed in Canada.

Under the Armpit of Noah: Boona Mohammed
Poet, rapper, and a child of refugee parents from Oromia, a part of Ethiopia still under colonial regime.

What's in a Name?" Mahtab Narsimham
Author born in Mumbai and now lives in Toronto.

Crossing Yonge Street: Marina Nemat
Author born in Tehran, Iran.
After my release out of prison, the government of Iran refustd to give me a passport, and I had to wait six years to leave the country.

The Languages I've Learned: Dimitri Nasrallah
Author born in Lebanon in 1977 and moved to Canada in 1988.

My Piece: Teresa Toten
Award winning writer who was born in Zagreb, Croatia.

My mom  and I arrived in Canada on October 26th, 1955, on the Queen Elizabeth II.
 I was thirteen days old.
Six months later my father died.

Shadow Play:Rui Umezawa
Martial artist and author born in Japan who now lives in Toronto.

The Airplane Overhead: Eva Wiseman
Historical fiction author who immigrated to Canada during the Hungarian Revolution who now lives in Winnipeg, MB.

A roomful of eyes stared at me. Somebody snickered in the back of the room, but I couldn't tell who it was, for my oxfords drew my eyes like a magnet.

Permission to Work:Ting Xing Ye
Young Adult author born in Shanghai in 1952 and now lives in Orillia, Ontario.

Piece by Piece brought to the forefront that every immigrant has a story. I was able to identify with some of the stories, others provided thoughtful insight, and some were hard to fathom. The reality is, that some of these stories also mimic some of our own student's personal experiences. After reading this anthology I feel that I can better identify with some of the struggles that our EAL students may have in our schools, and most importantly I was reminded that at some point and time we all have struggled to belong.  A powerful message and reminder to share with all of our students.

Reviews and Awards
Curriculum Connections
  • English Language Arts: Personal and philosophical context
  • Social Studies: Dynamic Relationships & Power and Authority
  • Suitable for Middle Years and High School


  1. Thnak you for alerting me to a book that will be useful for many reasons but particularly fits the grade 6 social studies unit we are constructing. Kim Johnson

  2. Hi Tamzen, I was hoping to use this book with the EAL students at my school but the reading level is far too difficult for them. Chris

  3. I really feel which i can much better determine with some in the struggles that our EAL
    When you have nothing to do or unhappy? What should you do to spend the free time? How about the game? like to get Buy RS Gold in WOW, and how to have theRS Goldwith less money, is there anyway to get the for us? We need to think about this.