From the Roots Up

  • Illustrated By: Natasha Donovan,
  • Pages:64
  • Publisher:Portage & Main Press
  • Themes:Indigenous Voices Award winner, Native Canadian graphic novel, LGBTQ2S, Two spirit, identity
  • Pub Date:10/27/2020
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 12+
  • Lexile:HL660L
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:Z

Dez’s grandmother has passed away. Grieving, and with nowhere else to go, she’s living in a group home. On top of everything else, Dez is navigating a new relationship and coming into her identity as a Two-Spirit person. 

Miikwan is crushing on the school’s new kid Riel, but doesn’t really understand what Dez is going through. Will she learn how to be a supportive ally to her best friend?

Elder Geraldine is doing her best to be supportive, but she doesn’t know how to respond when the gendered protocols she’s grown up with that are being thrown into question.

Will Dez be comfortable expressing her full identity? And will her community relearn the teachings and overcome prejudice to celebrate her for who she is?

Among CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens list, designated a title of exceptional caliber

– The Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC)

Moving and heartfelt, readers definitely will want to know what happens next.

– The Globe and Mail

Surviving the City and From the Roots Up are beautiful, poignant, and emotional. I highly recommend you read these graphic novels.

– The Tiny Activist

Every single thing about these volumes is important. They are beautifully written, fantastically illustrated, at times heartbreaking, humourous, and rooted in Indigenous strength.


This story is so important. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, and add so much depth to the story. This book is an essential addition to classroom and libraries.

– Bit About Books
Forest of Reading Red Maple Award   | 2022  |  Short-listed
Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher   | 2021  |  Short-listed
Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award   | 2021  |  Short-listed
McNally Robinson Book for Young People (Older Category)   | 2021  |  Short-listed
Indigenous Voices Award, Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in any Language   | 2021  |  Short-listed
MYRCA Northern Lights   | 2022  |  Nominated