Piece by Piece
Stories about Fitting into Canada
edited by Teresa Toten
Penguin Group, 2010
$20, 123 pp, ages 12+
In this country of immigrants, we celebrate and denigrate our heritage, all the while trying to belong to mainstream groups. Piece by Piece is about trying to belong while keeping part of what makes us unique. There are fifteen stories in this selection, in which all authors answered the hateful question, “Where are you from?”
This is an excellent resource for Grade 8 students who are studying human migration in Geography. The short stories are good snapshots of experiences that look at the barriers and bridges of migration to Canada. Will I make myself understood in a new language? What will the new food be like? Will I find something familiar?
The first entry by Svetland Chmakova should be very motivating to students, as it is in a mini-graphic novel format. It follows the ups and downs of two sisters who have migrated with their parents to Canada. I like the graphic novel format, which most students find very engaging. It should be especially appealing for ESL students who may be living the issues described there while using the vocabulary and pictures to enhance their own literary and conceptual development.
My favourite story is “Shadow Play” by Rui Umezawa. It includes the perseverance and creativity all the immigrants’ stories showed, besides an entry into understanding the charms of the opposite sex, which were far out of reach for him at that time. He is trying to fit in on so many levels, and continues to try, despite numerous failures.
Soon, in the Greater Toronto Area, the visible minority will be Caucasian. How will I belong in a city that doesn’t share my cultural heritage? Soon it will be my turn to ask those questions.
This book opened up those questions for me and assured me there is a place for all of us who love this country.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May 2010 issue.