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Liz Amini-Holmes

Liz, an only child, was born in San Francisco, where she still lives today. Most of her family members are very artistic so she was always encouraged to paint, write, or act; however, her mother, herself a successful medical illustrator, did not want Liz to become an artist. She would have preferred her to become a doctor or lawyer, but she knew that once Liz had decided to do something, there was no way she was going to change her mind.

Liz spent her childhood daydreaming, drawing, reading, and writing. All summer long she would sit in her grandmother’s garden in a huge oak tree with her sketchbook and her beloved books. Some of her favorites were Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryOnce and Future King, and Little House on the Prairie. It was pure bliss!

Although she wanted to be a writer, she was also interested in becoming an archeologist, a paranormal researcher, but mostly a detective with Scotland Yard. When she was 10 years old, she actually wrote a letter to Scotland Yard asking how she could start training to become a detective.

Liz has a highly personalized painting style. Working primarily in acrylic paint, she strives to evoke emotional reactions using mood, lighting, and color. She draws inspiration from the Symbolist painting movement of the nineteenth century, contemporary Polish poster art, Expressionist literature and, of course, fairy tales.

For a long time, Liz’s lack of confidence about her work was an obstacle. She would try to assimilate other illustrators’ styles, but that never worked. She had to develop a personal style, which took time, and only then did she gain the confidence to be creative in her own way and still be successful.

Liz graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art College and University of San Francisco in San Francisco, CA. As a freelance illustrator, she creates illustrations for various publications such as magazines, newspapers, the music industry, children’s books, and posters. She has been a featured artist in various poetry, prose, and illustration collections. Liz also exhibits and sells her paintings in galleries and works on commissioned pieces.

Regarding her work Liz says, “In some pieces my work is whimsical but also has a bittersweet quality. I like that sweet, sad aspect of life and let it leak into my work. Other pieces are more about the tense moments that are just around the corner, the ambiguity of what will happen next. I like the feeling of being a bit scared. Life is paradoxical; a bit scary and fun, which is what makes it exciting!”

Her advice to aspiring illustrators is “Allow yourself to experiment, try to bring your own interests and passions into your art, because if you do, then your style will feel like it is really you talking through your art.”

Liz lives in her own tree house in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, twin boys, and an ever-growing assortment of pets. She is currently working on writing and illustrating her own picture books.

A Stranger at Home: A True Story
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8;

The powerful memoir of an Inuvialuit girl searching for her true self when she returns from residential school. 

Traveling to be reunited with her family in the Arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It's been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. 

Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, "Not my girl." Margaret realizes she is now marked as an outsider. 

And Margaret is an outsider: she has forgotten the language and stories of her people, and she can't even stomach the food her mother prepares. 

However, Margaret gradually relearns her language and her family's way of living. Along the way, she discovers how important it is to remain true to the ways of her people -- and to herself. 

Highlighted by archival photos and striking artwork, this first-person account of a young girl's struggle to find her place will inspire young readers to ask what it means to belong.

Sequel to Fatty Legs.

"This memoir, detailing a woeful piece of Canadian history and demonstrating Margaret's strength of character, compassion, courage and her willingness to sacrifice herself for her family's sake, gives the reader a lot to ponder. Highly recommended." — Shelbey Krahn, Canadian Materials, February 2012

"A Stranger at Home will speak to anyone who has experienced displacement or assimilation into a new culture. This fabulous story enhances the Grades 6 to 8 social studies curriculum." — Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teache, April 2012

"While it may not have the same drama and tension of the first memoir, this tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world." — Jody Kopple, School Library Journal, December 2011

"Without being graphic or overwhelming, the Fentons recreate a tragic moment in Canadian history through the innocent reflections of a child...a must for any classroom library." — Canadian Teacher Magazine, May 2012

"This tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world. The writing is unpretentious and accessible and readers who enjoyed the first book will find this an interesting follow-up. Vivid paintings are a beautiful accompaniment to the storytelling. Photographs from Pokiak Fenton's own collection add important points of reference for readers looking to visualize the characters and the unique setting of the Arctic Circle. A welcome addition to biography collections." — Jody Kopple, School Library Journal, December 2011

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 9-13.

Guided Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell U

Themes: biography; Inuit; Indigenous peoples; arctic; residential schools; identity; community; Canadian content; family; society; history; memoir.

Additional Information
128 pages | 6.25" x 9.00"


Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text