Ontario Library Association's Golden Oak Award nominee 2010
OLA's Silver Birch Express nominee 2010
Aram Davidian is one of a group of Armenian refugee orphans who made the trip from Corfu, Greece to a new home in Canada, at a farm in Georgetown, Ontario. And like the others, Aram is delighted with the beauty of his new home and the kindness of the people taking care of them.
But adjusting to a new home isn't easy. None of the Canadians speak Armenian, and the boys are left to puzzle out their hosts' bewildering language and customs. While Aram can't really understand why they must eat the steamy mess called porridge every day, he and the other boys are delighted by the strange candies and fruits they have never experienced before. Slowly they must learn that it isn't necessary to horde their food; more comes every day. There is so much to confuse and delight. They cannot understand why their Canadian host wants them to stand under water coming out of a wall when they can just jump in the pond to get clean. But the ice box and stove are wonders of modern life.
Despite the many pleasant distractions, Aram misses his young friend, Mgerdich. Injured on the long journey to Canada, Mgerdich is alone in a hospital in France. And what is more disturbing is that Aram and the other boys have been given new names, English names, to go by. If they are forced to discard their Armenian names, how will their extended families find them again one day? Even the final arrival of Mgerdich does not cheer up Aram, who cannot explain to his young friend why he must have a new name. As much as they want to forget the hardships and tragedies of their past lives, the boys can't understand why they must give up their identities. With a little help from an Armenian translator, Aram at last has the chance to thank his kind hosts for all their care and explain why he and the others must always keep their names.
Call Me Aram is the sequel to Aram’s Choice, which was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the CLA's Children's Book of the Year Award.
Below are links to sections of the book:
Click here for the Literature Circle Guide for Teachers, or
click here for the Rubrics for the Literature Circle.
"Call Me Aram is a good choice for spearheading discussions about the trials of new Canadians. The book provides a realistic portrayal of the homesickness, difficulties with language and other problems faced by displaced immigrants. The theme of maintaining a cultural identity, even when harboured by well-meaning sponsors, is explored. As in Aram's Choice, Muriel Wood's luminous illustrations help to clarify the text.
-- CM Magazine
"Skrypuch's tale is an affecting one, made even more so by artist Woods's limpid paintings of the bucolic Canadian farmland."
-- The Globe and Mail
"The full-color paintings have an unsophisticated quality that suits the descriptions of children in a bucolic setting. While this book stands alone, it will have greater impact if read along with the earlier title (Aram's Choice)."
-- School Library Journal
"Based on historical fact, this story is powerful in teaching readers today of history, cross-cultural understanding, and charity. That which the boys find strange - ice boxes, wood stoves, porridge with cream - today's reader might easily find equally unfamiliar. Skrypuch's narrative voice, in explaining how Aram's culture differs from Canada, also reveals how 1923 Canada differs from our world today. There are many learning opportunities in this text; the depth to which the issues can be explored can be tailored to the age and maturity of the reading audience. The addition of the glossary and historical notes lends validity to the text, rendering it not only a beautiful tale, but an inspiring part of our national history.
Rating: E – Excellent"
-- Resource Links
"Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, an accomplished and prize-winning novelist, has written an inspired novel for young readers about the consequences of the Armenian genocide. . . She does meticulous research and pays close attention to accuracy of historical detail. . . Murial Wood's illustrations add a powerful visual dimension to the story. . . Call Me Aram is a powerful novel based on firsthand accounts of actual historical events which will appeal to young readers and adults."
-- Curled up with a good kids book
Marsha Skrypuch is the author of many books for children, including Silver Threads, Enough, The Hunger and Hope's War. Her novel about the Armenian genocide, Nobody's Child, was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, the B.C. Stellar Award; and it was listed by Resource Links as a Best Book. Aram's Choice is based on the story of Kevork Kevorkian, one of the original Georgetown Boys - a group of Armenian orphans brought to Georgetown, Ontario, in 1923. An English scholar and former librarian, Marsha lives in Brantford, Ontario, with her husband and son.
Visit Marsha's website at www.calla.com.
Also, check out Marsha’s blog.
Muriel Wood is acclaimed for the accurate historical detail in her illustrations. She is the illustrator of Apples and Angel Ladders, Scared Sarah, The Olden Days Coat, Anne of Green Gables and Old Bird. Muriel lives in Port Hope, Ontario.
New Beginnings is a series of historical chapter books for newly independent readers between the ages of eight and eleven. Each novel concerns a boy or girl facing the challenges of adapting to life in a new culture in North America.
Every New Beginnings title is well researched, illustrated in full color throughout, and accompanied by an index and glossary.
Other books in the New Beginnings Series:
- Lizzie's Storm (only available in paperback.)
- Scared Sarah (available in hardcover and paperback.)