Atlantic Books Today Review

“I am the Cougar,” says Michael J. Isaac. “The ghost cat story is one in which I have lived.” How The Cougar Came To Be Called the Ghost Cat, written by the Mi’kmaw author, is a wonderful modern day story about loss of identity and the desire to be accepted. The cougar had to learn to live within a world by giving up parts of who he was in order to be accepted. Isaac grew up in the Canadian school system where he was discouraged from speaking his Mi’kmaq language. Like the cougar, he found it to be an alienating and painful experience that left an impact on him all his life. Beautiful intricate illustrations by internationally renowned Maliseet artist Dozay Christmas add to this rich story. Isaac wanted it in both languages for Mi’kmaq speakers and non-speakers to enjoy. The English text is first in order to draw the non-speakers into the story and encourage them to read the Mi’kmaq as well. Isaac tested it with several audiences including his own fifth grade students and it met their approval. Elders told Isaac that more relevant stories like this are needed to relate to today. Isaac is presently working on a facilitator’s guide to use in the classroom. This is a great book for all ages and comes highly recommended through strong endorsements from youth and elders. – Catherine Martin, Atlantic Books Today, Spring 2011

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