Fatty Legs is the disturbing true story of Oleman Pokiak, a young Inuit girl, who insists on being sent to school so she can learn to read. Despite her older sister Rosie’s warnings that ‘they’ don’t just take, “your hair, Oleman. They take everything” Oleman desperately wants to be sent to school and so she bugs and bugs and bugs her father. Even though he loves to read, Oleman’s father, “put[s] little value in the outsiders’ learning compared to the things our people knew.” Oleman finally convinces her father to send her to school and after a five day journey aboard a schooner, the family arrives in Aklavik where they sell their pelts, buy supplies, and say goodbye to Oleman, renamed Margaret by the nuns.
Having her hair cut off is the first humiliation Oleman suffers, having her name taken away is the second. Amonst the girls at the school, there are is fighting between different northern aboriginal groups and Oleman finds herself being bullied by some of the girls at school and one nun in particular.
A thought provoking read aloud. Great launching point for discussions on aboriginal history and issues, bullying, and being true to yourself. Shortlisted for the 2011 BC Book Prize.