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1. Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story written and illustrated by S. D. Nelson

The last book I reviewed here, The Liberators,  was a novel about two friends who joined the Marines and serves in the Pacific theater.  Our Hero, the Ira Hayes Story is about a man who really did serve in those sames places - Vella LaVella, Bourgainville, and who ultimately became one of the heroes who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian, born on the Gila River Indian Reservation in a remote part of the northern Sonoran Desert in Arizona in 1923.  His family were poor farmer, working the land, but living without electricity or running water.  They had four sons, and Ira was the oldest.  He was quiet and shy, but always felt lonely and seemed to fit in with the other kids on the reservation or in the Phoenix Indian School when he was sent there.

But, while still in his teens, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war.  Ira felt it was his patriotic duty as an American to fight for his country and he joined the Marine Corps in August 1942 at age 19.  Sent to basic training in San Diego, Ira didn't experience the kind of segregation and low level jobs reserved for the African American soldiers because many believed that Native Americans were fierce warriors and so they trained with the white soldiers.

After basic training, Ira volunteered to train as a Paramarine.  Joining the military and going through such rigorous training seems for forge strong bonds of friendship among the soldiers, and it was in the Marines that Ira finally felt like he belonged.  Ira and his fellow Marines arrived in the Pacific theater in March 1943 and fought there for two years.  After the month long battle at Iwo Jima, Ira was one of six Marines who raised the flag over Mount Surabachi, a moment captured in a photograph by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal:

Iwo Jima - Ira Hayes is the last man on the left
Ira came home a true Native American hero, but civilian life wasn't easy for him.  Most of his buddies didn't survive the war and Ira found it difficult to be celebrated knowing the terrible price his buddies had paid.  And once again, Ira felt like an outside, not fitting in anywhere.  Ira became severely depressed, and started drinking heavily.  In 1955, at the age of 32, Ira Hayes passed away.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S. D. Nelson has written a very moving and insightful picture book for older readers about a real hero, showing us that even heroes aren't perfect.  He could have easily written the Ira Hayes story up to the flag raising at Iwo Jima, and left it at that, but instead he chose to continue and let his readers see that heroes are human and sometimes flawed.  Ira Hayes may have officially died of alcoholism, but I would say the loneliness, despair and depression were the real causes of his death.

Hayes' wartime experiences make up the majority of this book, but Nelson doesn't ignore his youth on the reservation and his time at the Indian School, giving us a clear picture of this very sensitive, isolated Pima Indian growing up in poverty, but surrounded by a loving family:
  

As you can see from the illustration above, Nelson's text is accompanied and complimented by his beautifully detailed acrylic illustrations using a widely varied palette of colors.  And be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book, where he includes a more detailed account of the life of Ira Hayes, as well as very useful Bibliography for further investigation.

You can find an extensive Quiet Hero Teacher's Guide provided by the publisher, Lee & Low.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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2. Atoning for the Wounded Knee Massacre: General Nelson A. Miles and the Lakota survivors’ pursuit of justice

Today, 29 December 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, when the US Seventh Cavalry killed the Lakota Chief Big Foot and more than two hundred of his followers in South Dakota, ostensibly for their adherence to the Ghost Dance religion.

The post Atoning for the Wounded Knee Massacre: General Nelson A. Miles and the Lakota survivors’ pursuit of justice appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Fusenews: Gravel in the bed

“If kids like a picture book, they’re going to read it at least 50 times, and their parents are going to have to read it with them. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.” – Mark Haddon

I’ve just returned from speaking at a magnificent writing retreat weekend at Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn in Austin, Texas.  That quote was one that Bethany read before Alexandra Penfold’s presentation and I like it quite a lot.  Someone should start a picture book blog called “Gravel In the Bed”.  If you need a good treat, I do recommend The Writing Barn wholeheartedly.  The deer alone are worth the price of admission.  And if you’ve other children’s book writing retreats you like, let me know what they are.  I’m trying to pull together a list.

  • I just want to give a shout out to my girl Kate Milford. I don’t always agree with the ultimate winners of The Edgar Award (given for the best mysteries) in the young person’s category but this year they knocked it out of the park. Greenglass House for the win!
  • As you know, I’m working on the funny girl anthology FUNNY GIRL and one of my contributors is the illustrious Shannon Hale.  She’s my personal hero most of the time and the recent post Boos for girls just nails down why that is.  Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

Not too long ago I was part of a rather large gathering based on one of my blog posts.  The artist Etienne Delessert saw a piece I’d written on international picture books and how they’re perceived here in the States.  So what did he do?  He grabbed local consulates, flew in scholars, invited friends (like David Macaulay) and created an amazing free day that was hugely edifying and wonderful.  You can read the SLJ report We need more international picture books, kid lit experts say or the PW piece Where the Wild Books Are: A Day of Celebrating Foreign Picture Books or the Monica Edinger recap International Children’s Books Considered.  Very interesting look at these three different perspectives.  And, naturally, I must thank Etienne for taking my little post so very far.  This is, in a very real way, every literary blogger’s dream come true.  Merci, Etienne!

  • There’s a lot of joy that can come when when a British expert discusses their nation’s “forgotten children’s classics“.  The delightful Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature is out and its editor Daniel Hahn has recapped the books that he feels don’t get sufficient attention in Britain.  Very funny to see one of our American classics on this list (I won’t ruin which one for you).
  • How do we instill a sense of empathy in our kids?  Have ‘em read Harry Potter.  Apparently there’s now research to back that statement up.  NPR has the story.
  • Ooo. Wish I lived in L.A. for this upcoming talk.  At UCLA there’s going to be a discussion of Oscar Wilde and the Culture of Childhood that looks at his fairytales.  It ain’t a lot of money.  See what they have to say.
  • Because of I have ample time on my hands (hee hee hee hee . . . whooo) I also wrote an article for Horn Book Magazine recently.  If you’ve ever wondered why we’re seeing so many refugees from the animation industry creating picture books, this may provide some of the answers.
  • Over at the blog Views From the Tesseract, Stephanie Whelan has located a picture book so magnificent that it should be reprinted now now now.  Imagine, if you will, a science fiction picture book starring an African-American girl . . . illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.  Do you remember Blast Off?

Of course you don’t.  No one does.  Stephanie has the interiors on her site.  And since the number of books that show African-American girls as astronauts are . . . um . . . okay, I’ve never seen one.  Plus it’s gorgeous and fun.  REPRINT REPRINT REPRINT!

  • Speaking of girls in space, I’ve never so regretted that a section was cut from a classic book.  But this missing section from A Wrinkle in Time practically makes me weep for its lack.  I WISH it had been included.  It’s so very horribly horribly timely.
  • As you’ll recall, the new math award for children’s books was established.  So how do you submit your own?  Well, new submissions for 2015 (and looking back an additional five years) will begin to be received starting June 1st. So FYI, kiddos.
  • Daily Image:

Know a librarian getting married?  Or an editor?  Or an author?  Gently suggest to them these for their registry.


Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.

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4. Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac

When his grandchildren ask about the medal he has received, an elderly Navajo grandfather begins to tell them "the true story of how Navajo Marines helped America win a great war." (pg 1)  He begins his story when, at age 6, he leaves the loving confines of his family's hogan on the Navajo Reservation to be educated in an Navajo mission boarding school, not knowing what to expect.

But it doesn't take long for him to find out.  Arriving at the school, he is immediately stripped of everything Navajo - his beautiful traditional long black hair is shaved off, his Navajo clothes replaced by a uniform, the family's turquoise and silver jewelry he wore is taken never to be seen again and  his Navajo name, Kii Yázhí, becomes the anglicized Ned Begay.  But the worst was being told he could never speak his beloved Navajo language again.  The punishments were harsh for anyone caught speaking Navajo, as Ned discovered one day after greeting one of the teachers in Navajo.  And just to make sure they understand things, the students are continuously reminded that all things Navajo are bad, and their language most of all.

But Ned adjusts to life in the mission school and does very well, eventually returning home and going to the Navajo high school.  It is his hope to become a teacher, one who respects all his Indian students.  But, when Ned is 16, the United States is attacked by the Japanese, and reports of what happened in Pearl Harbor prompt his to want to join the Marines.  But he must wait a year before his parents will give him permission.

When he finally does join the Marines, he finds himself part of a group of other Navajos   Ned finishes boot camp and to his surprise, he and the other Navajos are not given the usual furlough Marines are given afterwards.  Instead, they are taken to an isolated location and Ned fears it will be mission boarding school all over again.

It is school, but it is a far cry from mission school.  In mission school, Ned and the other students would have to secretly speak Navajo, but now, they were being asked to use their sacred language to help the United States win the war against Japan.  It is Ned's job and the job of all the Navajo Marines to turn their language into a secret code.  And they cannot tell a single solitary person about what they are doing.

Eventually, Ned ships out to the Pacific theater where he is a radio operator, trained to both give and receive messages using the code he helped develop.  Ned and the other Marines fight their way across the Pacific theater of Guadalcanal, Bourgainville, Guam Iwo Jima and Okinawa, in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.  All the while, Ned feels pride and satisfaction knowing that his beloved language used as a Navajo code cannot be broken by the Japanese.  Ned serves in the Pacific until the end of the war, but the reader should keep in mind that in 1945, he was still just a teenage boy.

Code Talker is a realistic novel about the war and about the life of the Code Talkers.  Bruchac wrote it using a framing technique, so the young reader knows from the beginning that Ned survived the war.  As an elderly grandfather now, Ned tells his story fluidly and fluently.  Bruchac's plot is tight and straightforward, as is the language used.  Any reference to Navajo culture, custom, or way of life is respectfully explained within the story but without taking the reader away from the story.  For my part, however, I found the narrators voice is so intimate that after a while I begin to feel like I was sitting among his grandchildren listening to his story.  That, to me, is the sign of a really good book.

One important aspect that Bruchac includes is Ned's Navajo religion.  Ned often refers to the Holy People who watch over him and help him.  He also describes different ceremonies, like the protection ceremony called the Blessingway, done before Ned becomes a marine or the Enemyway ceremony, done when Ned returns home from war suffering what we would call PTSD nowadays, and done to put him back in balance with the world.  Each morning, Ned does his morning prayers, using the pollen  he is given in his Blessingway.

Although this is a book that is also about war, and covers some of the harshest, bloodiest fighting in circumstance that are difficult to imagine, it really has a very low key way of handling the combat sections.  They are more focused on Ned and the other marines than in anything else.  And the reader learns how men (and now women) survive in combat, from living in foxholes that had to dig themselves under enemy fire, to making soup in their helmets and constantly dealing with lice and rats

You might be interested in knowing that from the original 29 Code Talkers by the end of the war there were more than 400, including men from the Choctaw, Comanche, Navajo and Hopi tribes, all using their own tribal language.  The Code Talkers were not allowed to speak of their wartime accomplishment until 1969, when their work was declassified.  In 2000, President Clinton awarded the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers the Congressional Gold Medal, and the other Code Talkers the Congressional Silver Medal (which is the medal that sparks Ned's story).  Sadly, in June 2014, the last living Code Talker, Chester Nez, passed away at age.

Do read Code Talker if you are interested in Native Americans, codes and/or WWII.  It may read a little slowly at times, but it is well worth it.  Bruchac includes an Author's Note at the back of the novel, as well as a Selected Bibliography that includes books about Navajos, books about the Code Talkers and books about WWII for anyone interested in more information.

A useful discussion guide for Code Talker is available from the publisher, Scholastic

This short piece will give you a sense of what Ned Begay experienced and his legacy


This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was purchased for my personal library

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5. Fusenews: I’m Cuckoo for Cuckoo Song

  • SeparateEqual1 300x300 Fusenews: Im Cuckoo for Cuckoo SongThere was a time, oh children of mine, when the ALA Media Awards would be announced and the morning after the announcement the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards would be whisked away to New York City to speak on NBC.  Then Snooki came and ruined everything (this is the abbreviated version, but it’s not too far off).  So we’re none too pleased with NBC these days.  Al Roker’s Book Club aside (and it looks like it hasn’t updated since Halloween) there’s not a lot going on at that channel.  But then they go and post the Latinas for Latino Lit: “Remarkable” Children’s Books of 2014 piece (selected by Viviana Hurtado and Monica Olivera) and much is forgiven.  Just one question about the list, though . . . no Viva Frida?
  • What is the state of children’s nonfiction in the UK today?  For our answer we turn to my favorite British blog Playing By the Book which reveals revelation after revelation in the piece Do We Care About Children’s Non-Fiction?  Apparently informational books don’t get reviewed all that often in the U.K.  Do the British value nonfiction then?  Definitely fascinating reading.
  • “I mean, seriously, can you think of one popular show/movie that actually tries to portray Muslims accurately instead of as a confining stereotype?”  The excellent Summer writes on her blog Miss Fictional’s World of YA the piece I Am Not Oppressed.  In particular she’s not particularly pleased with how Muslim women are depicted on the bulk of our book jackets (to say nothing of the content inside).
  • Hm.  So Entertainment Weekly just released a list of 50 Books Every Kid Should Read.  Interesting, yes?  And the choices are fascinating.  They made an effort to do the classics and then work in some contemporary titles.  What they chose is telling.  Little Willow presents the list and leads the discussion as well.
  • Um . . .

EvangelineLilly Fusenews: Im Cuckoo for Cuckoo Song

Okaaaaay. So that’s what Evangeline Lilly wore to her children’s book signing at Barnes & Noble.  Clearly this is the outfit children’s authors should all be wearing now.  Those of you hankering to wear your picnic blanket as a skirt now finally have an excuse to do so.  Thanks to Jules for the link.

  • And now, the best news of the week.  My love for the author Frances Hardinge knows no bounds.  Honestly, I do believe that The Lost Conspiracy may be my favorite children’s book published in the last 10 years.  It’s a serious contender in any case.  So you can imagine how distraught I was when it became clear that Harper Collins would no longer be publishing her books in the U.S.  I watched miserably as the U.K. published A Face Like Glass and Cuckoo Song (read the Book Smugglers review of the latter) overseas.  Heck, I actually shelled out money and bought the darn books myself (and you know how I feel about spending money).  Then, yesterday, a miracle.  I was paging through the Spring 2015 Abrams catalog and there she was.  Frances.  And Cuckoo Song, it said, would be published in May with what may well be the creepiest cover . . . um, ever?  Yeah.  Ever.  It’s not even online yet, so just stay tuned because when it is you know I’ll be blogging it.  So excited. (pssst! Abrams! Let me do the cover reveal!)
  • If you missed the whole Barbie, Computer Programmer children’s book debacle, now’s your time to catch up.  This was the inciting incident.  This was the follow-up.
  • The nice thing about working for NYPL is that they give me an awful lot of leeway when it comes to programming.  I want to do a monthly series of Children’s Literary Salons on a host of different topics?  Go to it!  Any topic I like.  The best ones, however, are often suggested by other people.  For example, when editors Cheryl Klein and Stacy Whitman suggested we have a panel on Native American YA literature where authors Eric Gansworth and Joseph Bruchac could talk about the cross-cultural pleasures and challenges of working with their editors, I was all for it.  Sadly, most of my Lit Salons are not recorded . . . but this one was!  Cheryl, you see, is married to James Monohan and together they run the blog The Narrative Breakdown.  My Salon?  It became one of the episodes and you can listen to it here.  As for those of you interested in attending a Salon (they’re free after all) there’s one this coming Saturday and you can see the full roster of them here.
  • This thing.  More libraries should do this thing. Yes.
  • Speaking of Ms. Woodson, did you see the list of books President Obama purchased at Politics and Prose last Saturday?  If we just pull out the children’s book fare it included:
  1. “Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” by Barbara Park
  2. “A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More” by Doreen Cronin
  3. “I Spy Sticker Book and Picture Riddles” by Jean Marzollo
  4. “Nuts to You” by Lynn Rae Perkins
  5. “Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus” by Barbara Park
  6. “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
  7. “Redwall” by Brian Jacques
  8. “Mossflower” by Brian Jacques
  9. “Mattimeo” by Brian Jacques
  10. “Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms” by Katherine Rundell
  • Daily Image:

I consider this my early Christmas present.  Years ago when I did the Top 100 Children’s Novels poll, I did a post on All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor that included every book cover I could find of the title.  All but one.  The book jacket I grew up with appeared to be lost to the sands of time.  And now, all thanks to Sadie Salome, it’s been returned to me.  Behold the only work of historical fiction I read independently and for fun as a kid from cover to cover:

AllofaKindFamily Fusenews: Im Cuckoo for Cuckoo Song

Still the best, so far as I’m concerned.  Thanks, Sadie.

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6. Happy Thanksgiving! Now Go Listen to a Podcast

Joyeux Turkey Day, my fellows!  Between bites of sweet potato and rolls, perhaps it might do the soul good to listen to a l’il ole podcast that’s actually a bit perfect for the day.  The “original” Thanksgiving was between Pilgrims and Native Americans, or so we were taught in grade school, yes?  Well perhaps we should do away with the myths and listen to some American Indians today in one of my Children’s Literary Salons.  Normally they’re not recorded but Cheryl Klein and her husband James Monohan turned one such Salon into a podcast.  Here’s Cheryl’s description of it:

In happier news, the recording of the Native American Young Adult literature panel at the New York Public Library is now available here: http://www.thenarrativebreakdown.com/archives/698. Joseph Bruchac (author of KILLER OF ENEMIES), Stacy Whitman, Eric Gansworth (author of IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE), and I had a terrific conversation (moderated by Betsy Ramsey Bird) about finding Native authors, the editor-author relationship across cultural lines, creating authentic covers, and the many pleasures of Native YA books. Please listen! ‪#‎Weneeddiversebooks‬

Go!  Enjoy!  You’ll feel happy you did.  They were an impressive crew and kept me on my toes.

TheNarrativeBreakdown aPodcastforWriters Banner 500x194 Happy Thanksgiving!  Now Go Listen to a Podcast

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7. Columbus Day? Direct Thine Attention Hence

Columbus Columbus Day? Direct Thine Attention HenceSo I’m sitting at a Tri-Library Book Buzz event in NYC the other day, which is basically this massive librarian preview event where publishers of every stripe hock their wares in a lickety-split fashion.  I like to go because it lets me see a lot of the little publishers who don’t get a lot of airtime otherwise. Naturally I’ll be writing this up soon.

When Sterling stepped up to the plate they mentioned that they’ll be publishing in January 2015 a new book in their “Good Question” series called Did Columbus Really Discover America?  Living in an era where the Common Core demands books to discuss opposing viewpoints, I was heartened to see that the publishing copy for this book raises the question “How did Columbus treat the native people?”, a question that is too often assiduously forgotten particularly at this time of year.  Indeed it’s very difficult to be a Materials Specialist these days when the subject of Columbus comes up.  Teachers assign bios.  Therefore we must have them.  Yet how many are actually any good?  Sure could use someone’s blog post on this topic [raises eyebrows in Debbie Reese's general direction].

CoyoteColumbus 251x300 Columbus Day? Direct Thine Attention HenceYes, it’s Columbus Day yet again.  The world’s weirdest holiday for contemporary Americans.  On the one hand we public employees get the day off.  On the other, we sort of have to conveniently forget why we get the day off.  Now I could just plug my most beloved Columbus book of all time A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King to you yet again, but let’s try something a little different.  Some links appropriate to the day instead.

First up, I’m just going to alert you to a recent Children’s Literary Salon I helped put together at NYPL on the subject of contemporary YA Native authors and the learning curve both they and their white editors had to go through.  PW wrote it up in their piece Writing Native Lives in YA: A NYPL Panel Discussion and did a heckuva nice job with it too.  Editor Cheryl Klein’s podcast The Narrative Breakdown will also be posting the recording of the talk soon, so look for me to link to that in the near future.

I reminded in the course of the conversation of the amusing post from last year What if people told European History like they told Native American history.  Good for your eyeballs, if you missed it.

CradleMe 213x300 Columbus Day? Direct Thine Attention HenceFinally, Debbie Reese had a really lovely post up in 2011 that I saw someone link to recently that deserves notice. Top Board Books for Youngest Readers is a great survey of a very difficult topic.  My babies both read Cradle Me and Learn to Count with Northwest Coast Native Art and I can attest that they’re fabulous.

Now go ye and celebrate some other Italian.  I suggest Fiorello H. LaGuardia.  He wasn’t perfect but there was a nice musical made about him and that’s reason enough in my book to pay him heed.

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8. Woods Runner

Paulsen, Gary. 2010.  Woods Runner. New York: Wendy Lamb.

At only thirteen years old, Samuel is already a man in some ways.  Born on the frontier, he is at home in the woods; hunting, tracking and providing for his family.  His parents have taught him to read, to be curious, to enjoy the hard work and simplicity of the frontier, but at heart, they are city-born, content to live at the edge of the great woods. Samuel, though, is perhaps even more at home in the woods than in his family's modest home.

So it is that Samuel is away hunting bear when the war comes to Western Pennsylvania.  Carefully deciphering the tracks and signs near the scorched earth of what was once their settlement, Samuel knows that his parents have been taken captive by British Redcoats and their Native allies.  Others from the settlement were not so lucky.  After burying the dead, Samuel sets out to find his parents - traveling eastward to the Redcoats stronghold, New York.

Like a Cold Mountain for teens and young adults, Woods Runner doesn’t recount the battles of war , but rather, its impact on civilian life.  Samuel, his parents, and his traveling companions do not fight in the war, but neither can they escape it.

     "It is the way of it," Abner put in from the darkness, "of war.  Some get, some don't, some live, some ... don't.  It's the way of it.
     "It's bad."
     "Yes. It is.  But it is our lot now, and we must live it."  Abner sighed. "The best we know how.”
A historical tale of action, suspense, determination and survival.  Single page entries of historical facts (ammunition, orphans, communication, etc.) separate the chapters and add background and perspective to this short, gripping story. History repeats itself every day in some location in the world.  It's good to remind ourselves sometimes of war's less visible consequences.  Highly recommended for grades 6 and up.


Read an excerpt from Woods Runner.

Bookpage has a great interview with Gary Paulsen.

Woods Runner, Three Rivers Rising, One Crazy Summer, The Keening, Countdown ... this has been a great year for historical fiction. I can’t wait to see what wins the Scott O’Dell Award.  It’s hard for me to pick a favorite.

I nominated this book for the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) in the Young Adult category.  Anyone can nominate books until October 15th.  Just be sure to read the nomination rules first.

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9. Thanksgiving books for storytime

Thanksgiving is a wonderful (mostly) non-commercial holiday that we can all enjoy regardless of our ethnic and religious backgrounds. Following are some of my Thanksgiving favorites for sharing:



Anderson, Laurie Halse. 2002. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. New York: Simon and Schuster.

The fascinating true story of the woman who convinced the President Lincoln (the 5th president she petitioned!) to make Thanksgiving a national holiday - a quest on which she spent 38 years!  Written in a witty and engaging style, this one's a pleasure to share with older kids. This story never gets old.

Arnosky, Jim. 2009. I'm a Turkey. New York: Scholastic. (click for review)

A singing look at the natural world of turkeys.  Not a Thanksgiving book, but timely (and fun!), nonetheless.
Mayr, Diane. 2007. Run, Turkey, Run!
A cumulative tale (reminiscent of We're Going on a Bear Hunt) of a turkey on the run.  For the faint of heart, you can even end the book at the point where the family sits down to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner of grilled cheese while the turkey rejoices (and skip the final page when the turkey is spotted again when the family goes out to find a Christmas tree!).  Either way, it's a winner.


Anderson, Derek. 2005. Over the River: A Turkey's Tale. New York: Simon and Schuster. (Based on the song by Lydia Maria Child)
If you want to keep old songs alive, you've got to sing them - and children are the best audience.  They love to sing, they love you t

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10. Nonfiction in Doodles


There’s been a lot of discussion about invented aspects of nonfiction lately, although of course it has always been an issue: whether to use only direct quotes in context, and not to envision conversations; whether to connect points A and C with a B that seems necessary but is unknown; whether -- and how -- to fill in the blanks of a narrative.

Although the answers are full of grey area (and controversy) they seem more black and white to me than do answers to similar questions about illustrations. While illustrators must use real, reliable references, they also make tricky decisions about what to show -- and wander the border between fact and fiction struggling to envision a scene that demonstrates the heart of the story being told or the situation being described.

Take my current work, for example. I’m writing this blog post in a break from my forthcoming graphic article, White Whale on the Go, a Humanimal Doodle (For more on these, please see my Humanimal post or the Humanimal section of my website. ) Here’s the story this doodle tells:

The tiny Iñupiat Eskimo village of Point Lay, Alaska depends for its food on beluga and bowhead whales that migrate through. The Iñupiat have dispensation to hunt a small number of whales for subsistence. Scientists trying to learn more about beluga behavior and physiology asked the Iñupiat for access to the whales -- specifically, they asked for help catching whales so they could be tagged with data transmitters that would track their paths, and for tissue and blood samples from recently killed whales. These samples were used to compare the wild beluga with belugas kept at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

After several years of cooperative work, two Point Lay men were invited to visit Mystic to see the labs where the research was conducted and to visit the aquarium’s whales. Enthralled, they asked that other people from Point Lay be invited, and they were quite specific about whom: high schoolers. Not only did the men want the cooperative effort to continue -- because scientists are monitoring the effects on whales of climate change, expanded shipping lanes, and increased drilling for oil -- but they wanted the next generation to lock things in. Moreover, they hoped their young people might be inspired to go into science.

This year, four Point Lay girls visited Mystic, and I drove up to meet them and to talk to the scientists they were working with. I came home with good notes and great quotes, and now I had to turn them into a visual story. My Humanimal Doodles are all, uh, doodled, so photographs were out of the question. But I did have photographs showing the girls meeting Mystic’s three beluga whales, wearing chest-high waders to enter the chilly pool.

1 Comments on Nonfiction in Doodles, last added: 4/4/2011
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11. All Indians Weren't Bad People

I had the pleasure of being on Neil Hally's Total Education blogtalk a few weeks ago with Vicki Cobb. The first question Neil asked me was if I'd always been interested in history, to which I had to say no. Sadly, like a lot of kids (most?) I wasn't at all intrigued by any of the history taught through 6th grade. It all seemed like a dry procession of names and dates and facts heaped upon facts. This all changed in 7th grade.*
*
On the very first day of school that year we were introduced to a new teacher, a man. I attended a parochial school and Mr. Polino was the first male teacher ever hired. He was short and stocky and tough looking, and he began class that day by standing at the front, armed folded across his chest, staring hard at us. He never said a word but he definitely did not looked pleased. Gradually, as more and more kids stopped chattering to pay attention, the room quieted. I thought, "uh, oh, this isn't going to be good" and tied to disappear behind the kid in front of me. At this point Mr. Polino said in a strong voice, "All Indians weren't bad people!"*
*
By Indians he meant Native-Americans and the initial reaction to his simple statement ranged from surprised laughter to astonished gasps to scatterings of "what's he talking about?" Mr. P. then went on to tell us that we'd all been brainwashed into believing the worst about Native-Americans by really bad TV shows and movies. This produced a gentle murmuring of protest from the class; Mr. P. responded by asking us to be honest: "When you think about Indians what are the images that come to mind immediately." Several hands shot into the air and Mr. P. called on one after the other for answers, all of which turned out to be negative stereotypes based on -- guess what -- bad TV shows and movies.*
*
I realized that Mr. P. had trapped us, but he wasn't gloating about out manueuvering us or even lecturing us on wasting our time on trashy programs. He didn't even warn us that we should do better research before forming opinions. In fact, he was actually smiling by this time and seemed almost friendly as he began talking about the Lenni Lanape people and their accomplishments. And he did this for well over an hour. Telling us about their lifestyle, what local rivers and roads bore names using their language, how they had tried to maintain their lands through various treaties only to be betrayed by white settlers. It wasn't just the details he was revealing that grabbed my attention; Mr. P. was clearly animated and passionate about the subject and you could feel that excitement in his every word, every gesture. I sat up pretty tall in my seat so I could see and hear Mr. P. clearly. Afterward, I remember thinking that a whole new world had opened before me, a world where the past held secrets that I could uncover if I just did a little bit of legwork.*
*
I think about Mr. Polino every time I start a new project. Not that I think of myself as an accomplished teacher who might inspire young readers to a life of history. I have too much respect for the heavy lifting teachers have to do to engage and inform kids. But I do tell myself to put aside the cares of the day, to focus my thoughts and energy so I can bring as much passion and excitement to whatever subject I might be writing about. Hopefully, if I can maintain that focus from start to finish, one of my books might aid and abet a teacher in opening new worlds to one or more of their students.*

1 Comments on All Indians Weren't Bad People, last added: 6/14/2011
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12. The Dawes Act: How Congress tried to destroy Indian reservations

By Stephen Pevar

Chiefs at Verde Reservation, Arizona. Source: NYPL Labs Stereogranimator.

How would you feel if the government confiscated your land, sold it to someone else, and tried to force you to change your way of life, all the while telling you it’s for your own good? That’s what Congress did to Indian tribes 125 years ago today, with devastating results, when it passed the Dawes Act.

During the 1800s, white settlers moved west by the tens of thousands, and the US cavalry went with them, battling Indian tribes along the way. One by one, tribes were forced to relinquish their homelands (on which they had lived for centuries) and relocate to reservations, often hundreds of miles away. By the late 1800s, some three hundred reservations had been created.

The purpose of the reservation system was, for the most part, to remove land from the Indians and to separate the Indians from the settlers. Reservations were usually created on lands not (yet) coveted by non-Indians. By the late 1800s, however, settlers were nearly everywhere, and Congress needed to develop a new strategy to prevent further bloodshed.

The government decided that instead of separating Indians from white society, Indians should be assimilated into white society. Assimilation of the Indians and the destruction of their reservations became the new federal goal.

Two very different social forces helped shaped this new policy: greed and humanitarianism. Many whites wanted Indian land and knew that they would have an easier time obtaining it if Indian tribes disappeared. This greed prompted Congress to pass the Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act, in February 1887. The Dawes Act was also favored by many non-Indian social reformers who were aware that Indians were suffering unmercifully under the government’s existing reservation policies, and they sincerely believed that the best way to help Indians overcome their plight and their poverty was by encouraging assimilation. Although their motives differed, both groups pressured Congress to pass the Dawes Act. The objectives of the Act, as the US Supreme Court has noted, “were simple and clear cut: to extinguish tribal sovereignty, erase reservation boundaries, and force the assimilation of Indians into the society at large.” Indian tribes had no say in the matter and were not even consulted.

Most Indian tribes had no concept of private land ownership. Rather, land was communally owned and everyone worked together to gather what they could from the land and shared its bounty. In order to compel assimilation of the Indians, a scheme was developed that would undermine Indian life and culture at its core: individual Indians would be forced to own land for private use. Indians would be converted into capitalists.

To accomplish the new policy of assimilation, the Dawes Act authorized the President of the United States to divide communally-held tribal lands into separate parcels (“allotments”). Each tribal member was to be assigned an allotment and, after a twenty-five-year “trust” period, would be issued a deed to it, allowing the owner to sell it. Once the allotments were issued, the remaining tribal land (the “surplus” land) would be sold to non-Indian farmers and ranchers. Congress hoped that by allowing non-Indians to live on Indian reservations, the goals of the settlers and those of the humanitarian social reformers could both be satisfied: land would become available for non-In

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13. My Name is Not Easy

My Name Is Not Easy Debby Dahl Edwardson

It starts with Luke and his younger brothers Bunna and Isaac leaving their Inupiaq village to go to Sacred Heart boarding school. Isaac is deemed too young to be there and taken to live with a "good Catholic family." His brothers (and mother) don't know where and have no way to get in touch with him or to bring him home.

Despite the bleak start, it's not nearly as dark or depressing as I thought it would be. There are multiple narrators.* In addition to Luke, there's Chickie, the white girl who lives in an Arctic village. Donna, an Indian raised by nuns, Sonny, the head of the Indian students, Amiq, the head of the Eskimo students, and Junior, an overlooked boy who makes a difference in the end.

The book covers four years of schooling and with the multiple points of view, it dips in and out of time, offering snippets of life. This gives the reader a bit of distance from some of the bleakness present in the school. The book focuses most of its attention on the relationships between the students, which is another reason it doesn't get as dark as it easily could.

There are some big historical events incorporated into the text-- military testing on Arctic students, plans to nuke Cape Hope to build a bigger harbor, the Duck-In protests, the Seward earthquake and tsunami.** There's a great author not explaining about what's true and what isn't. Most of the storyline involving Luke and his brothers comes from the life of Edwardsons's husband and his brothers and their time at a Catholic boarding school.

One thing that comes up often in the text and isn't covered in the author's note that I would like to know more about is the animosity between the Indian and Eskimo students. They sit on opposite sides of the cafeteria, have different leaders, and don't get along. There are a few hints as to why (conflicts going back generations) but I don't have the background to understand it completely and it's something I want to seek out a bit more information on.

Overall, it's a very powerful book, but one that readers will still enjoy. I liked the wide cast of characters and the how gently Edwardson treats her subject without shying away from it. I think this is one that teens will really enjoy, but it's going to take some slick handselling to get them to pick it up.



*Although some characters get to narrate and some are told in limited third person

**Although I didn't know about ANY of those historical events except the earthquake.


Book Provided by... my local library

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14. Guest Post: Jamie Haden's Origins


Author Jamie Haden tells how she came to be a published author. Her latest release Illuminate-Alive, She Cried is available now in print and on Kindle. You can get it here: http://goo.gl/g6qKF (it is FREE to Prime users)


A few years ago, I was at the library with my daughters doing research on Native Americans when I asked them to check out a book. It was springtime, a beautiful day, and the last place they wanted to be was inside a public library watching me take notes. When my oldest said there was nothing at all that interested her, I laughed and told her I would write something. She certainly didn't think I was serious, but I must have been because a few months later, I had a 90,000-word novel on my computer. That was a few years back, and now I am thrilled to say the second book in The Talisa Santiago Series is now in print.

In Illuminate-Alive, She Cried, I wanted to create a world that was wholly different from anything my daughters had ever known, a place removed from society, entirely void of cell phones, computers, television, shopping malls, restaurants, theaters and the like. A remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smoky Mountains was the ideal setting for the backdrop of a novel that would divulge the mystery of Native American spirituality, deep-rooted beliefs, secrets, dangerous desires, and communications with the spiritual.

As I wrote Illuminate, I only told my daughters bits and pieces of the manuscript and promised they could read it in its entirety if it ever made it to print. Their copies are now in the mail, and I can't wait for them to open the book, hold it in their hands, and read the written word I created for them. That will make it all worthwhile.

      
About the book: Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year-old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her.
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smoky Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal, surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. Now, Talisa will put her life in their hands, depart from her mother, and begin the journey of a lifetime. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. There are evil tricksters everywhere that want her dead. As Talisa falls prey to the confusion of her own sexuality, she unleashes an untamed passion that may get them all killed.  
About the author: Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.
Visit her official site:
Get Illuminate-Alive, She Cried on Kindle here: http://goo.gl/g6qKF
or in paperback here: http://goo.gl/3V4Of

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15. Blog Tour: Jamie Haden, Character Interview


Author Jamie Haden had the opportunity to interview some of the characters from her novel, Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.


Talisa Santiago's life is in grave danger. The tricksters from her past have found her and want her dead. Only one place can keep her safe—a remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains. Talisa doesn't know what to expect. The only thing she clearly understands is that she must leave her island home, depart from her mother, and stay hidden from society for one year. Yet, she isn't afraid; her closest friends stand by her side and promise protection.
  
I'd like to welcome Talisa Santiago and her three friends—Jag, Dakota, and Miguel—to the blog this afternoon. It is clear you'll have a very special relationship. How long have you been friends?

The gang is on the couch together. Talisa sits between Jag and Dakota. Miguel relaxes on the arm of the sofa and taps his hand against his knee as if trying to catch a beat. 

Talisa looks at Dakota and smiles. "Seems like forever," she says. Dakota blushes. Jag takes her right hand and entwines her fingers with his.

Miguel clears his throat. "I grew up with Dakota and Jag, they're like my brothers. As for Talisa, we'd do anything for her. It's as if we've known her our whole lives."

Perhaps, but you haven't, when did you meet?

"I came to Silence Island last year," Talisa says. "And my life hasn't been the same since."

FIRST QUESTION: TALISA, WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

"My grandfather is a shaman, and I was born in the desert. My mother took me away when I was seven, I really don't remember my childhood."

Jag leans over and kisses her cheek. "That was then," he replies, "and this is now. The past is the past, baby."

Miguel interrupts. "As for me, I was born in Jamaica." Miguel is wearing a red and black crochet cap. He winks, rips it off, and releases a heap of knotty dreads.

BOYS, I'VE HEARD THE THREE OF YOU ARE GOING TO ACCOMPANY TALISA TO THE RESERVATION. LEAVING YOUR FAMILY AND ISLAND HOME FOR ONE YEAR TO GO INTO HIDING WITH HER IS QUITE A SACRIFICE.

"Nah, not really," Miguel says. I was at the reservation as a kid. I made some good friends there. In fact, I never said good-bye because I knew one day, I'd be back."

WHAT WAS THE RESERVATION LIKE? CAN YOU GIVE US A SNEAK PREVIEW?

Miguel shrugs, shakes his head.

NOTHING?

Why ruin the surprise. All I'm gonna say it will blow their freaking minds.

FAIR ENOUGH. NOW, QUICK, EVERYONE HAS TO ANSWER THE NEXT SERIES OF QUESTIONS. READY?

"Shoot," Miguel says.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS?

Dakota answers first. "Doesn't exist."
"Talisa," Jag says. "She is perfect happiness."
"Girls," Miguel blurts out.
Talisa swallows hard. "Peace of mind," she responds.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY?

"The one within," Dakota says.
Jag laughs. "Hell yeah."
"Same," Miguel agrees.
"Same," Talisa says.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?"

"Been there and done that," Dakota replies.
Miguel nods. "Happened to me in Africa," he states.
"I drown when I was ten," Jag offers.
"Drowning would be a terrible way to die," Talisa says. "Silent."

"WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT DO YOU VALUE THE MOST?"

Talisa looks at the boys. "My friends," she says. "They are all I have."
Dakota and Jag flash her a smile.
"Come on girl, we gotta get going," Miguel says. "We have a long road ahead." He jumps off the sofa and flashes the peace sign.


Jamie Haden
Wilmington, NC August 2012

Illuminate-Alive, She Cried,  a novel by Jamie Haden

Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her.
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. Now, Talisa will put her life in their hands, depart from her mother, and begin the journey of a lifetime. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. There are evil tricksters everywhere that want her dead. As Talisa falls prey to the confusion of her own sexuality, she unleashes an untamed passion that may get them all killed.  
Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.

Get Illuminate-Alive, She Cried on Kindle here: http://goo.gl/g6qKF  or in paperback here: http://goo.gl/3V4Of

Jamie Haden www.jamiehaden.com



BUY LINKS:

JAMIE’S SOCIAL NETWORKING LINKS:


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16. Going Native

Happy Memorial Day!

This post seems apropos today. I have the highest respect for our nation's military. The men and women who have served and are serving our country deserve more than they will ever give and have my greatest thanks. 

But...seems like there's always a but. Not everyone who lost their lives in defense of this land swore an oath to the US Government. Murray Pura's entry to the One series opens our eyes to a different perspective. To put it simply, no matter what the lines on the map say, we are all God's Children. Of course, Murray puts it much more eloquently and shares a tale of enthusiastic youth and idealism.

Mark Miller's One
Story Five
White Man's God
by Murray Pura


100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Five, best-selling author Murray Pura takes us to a fantastical world known as the 1970’s. As a college student in Canada, the author and some friends embark on a journey of body, mind and spirit. A road trip that begins with curiosity and idealism ends in death and self-discovery at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Sometimes, it takes great things for us to realize the simple things in our faith. For a bright-eyed, long-haired college kid, he had to re-evaluate his own beliefs when he saw the world through the eyes of Native Americans making a last stand for their beliefs. They showed him a different way to look at the White Man’s God.



About Murray Pura: Murray Pura is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including the novels The Rose of Lancaster County, The Wings of Morning, The Face of Heaven and the devotionals Rooted and Streams. He is published by Zondervan, Barbour, Baker, Helping Hands, Harvest House and Harper One San Francisco. Six new titles are expected in 2013.

Buy White Man's God on Kindle:

Please visit all of the Authors of One on Facebook:

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17. Undocumented immigrants in 17th century America

By Richard A. Bailey

“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.”

When the Mayflower—packed with 102 English men, women, and children—set out from Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1610, little did these Pilgrims know that sixty-five days later they would find themselves not only some 3,000 miles from their planned point of disembarkation but also pressed to pen the above words as the governing document for their fledgling settlement, Plimouth Plantation. Signed by 41 of the 50 adult males, the “Mayflower Compact” represented the type of covenant this particular strain of puritans believed could change the world.

The signing of The Mayflower Compact

While they hoped to achieve success in the future, these signers were especially concerned with survival in the present. The lives of these Pilgrims for the two decades or so prior to the launching of the Mayflower had been characterized by Separatism. Their decision to separate from the Church of England as a way to protest and to purify what they saw as its shortcomings had led to the necessity of illegally emigrating from the country of England and seeking refuge in the Netherlands. A further separation was needed as these English families realized that the Netherlands offered neither the cultural nor economic opportunities they really desired. But returning to England was out of the question. Thus, in order to discover the religious freedom they desired, these Pilgrims needed to remove yet again, which became possible because of an agreement made with an English joint-stock company willing to pair “saints” and “strangers” in a colony in the American hemisphere.

Despite the fact that they were the ones who had recently arrived in North America, the Pilgrims taxed the abilities of both the land and its native peoples to sustain the newly arrived English. Such taxation became most visible at moments of violent conflict between colonists and Native Americans, as in 1623 when Pilgrims massacred a group of Indians living at Wessagussett. Following the attack, John Robinson, a Pilgrim pastor still in the Netherlands, wrote a letter to William Bradford, Plimouth’s governor, expressing his fears with the following words: “It is also a thing more glorious, in men’s eyes, than pleasing in God’s or convenient to Christians, to be a terrour to poor barbarous people. And indeed I am afraid lest, by these occasions, others should be drawn to affect a kind of ruffling course in the world.” As his letter makes clear, Robinson clearly hoped the colonists would offer the indigenous peoples of New England the prospect of redemption–spiritually and culturally–rather than the edge of a sword. The Wessagussett affair, however, illustrated such redemption had not been realized. From at least that moment on, relationships between English colonists and the indigenous peoples of North America more often than not followed ruffling courses.

While an established state church isn’t a main threat nearly 400 years later, some of the Pilgrims’ concerns still haunt many Americans. Like those English colonists preparing to set foot on North American soil, we remain afraid of those we perceive as different than us–culturally, racially, ethnically, and the like. But the tables are turned. We are now the ones striving to protect ourselves from a stream of illegal and “undocumented” immigrants attempting to pursue their dreams in a new land. Our primary method of protection? Separatism. Like the Pilgrims we often remain unwilling to welcome those we define as different. We’ll look to them for assistance when necessary, rely on their labor when convenient, take advantage of their needs when possible, but we won’t welcome them as neighbors and equals in any real sense nor do we seek to provide reconciliation and redemption to people eager to embrace the potential future they see among us.

Ruffled courses persist as the United States wrestles with how it ought to treat those men, women, and children who, like the Pilgrims of the seventeenth century, are looking for newfound opportunities. As we remember the voyage of the seventeenth-century immigrants who departed England on 6 September 1610 and recall their many successful efforts to establish a lasting settlement in a distant land, we do well to celebrate not only their need to separate but also their dedication to “covenant and combine [them]selves together into a civil body politic.” The world has enough ruffling courses and perhaps needs the purifying reform modeled by the Pilgrims and the potential redemption those like John Robinson hoped for as they agreed to work together for the common good. In short, one would hope that a people whose history was migration from another land would be more welcoming than we often are, especially in our dealings with the immigrants and the impending immigration reform of our own day.

Richard A. Bailey is Associate Professor of History at Canisius College. He is the author of Race and Redemption in Puritan New England. His current research focuses on western Massachusetts as an intersection of empires in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, fly fishing in colonial America, and the concept of friendship in the life and writings of Wendell Berry. You can find Richard on Twitter @richardabailey

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Image credit: The Mayflower Compact, 1620. Artist unknown, from Library of Congress. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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18. Top 100 books by Indigenous Masters

Everyone loves a good list but finding lists that reflect the intelligence of experts in a given field can sometimes be tricky.  Consider, if you will, books about American Indians for the kiddos.  I can’t tell you how many summer reading lists I see every year that have The Indian in the Cupboard, The Matchlock Gun, or even Rifles for Watie on them.  Just once it would be nice to see a Top 100 list of books that could serve as guidelines for folks searching for good books about indigenous peoples.

You can imagine my interest, then, when Debbie Reese mentioned on the ccbc-net listserv that she had contributed to a list called “Top One Hundred Books by Indigenous Writers.”  She also said that if anyone was interested in seeing this list, they could contact her and she’d pass it on.  But with a list this good, it begs to be shared.  I asked Debbie and her fellow experts in the field if it would be all right to post the list on this site and they agreed.

Here’s is some background, from Debbie, about the books:

As we worked on the list, we limited ourselves on # of books per author so that we could be as inclusive as possible. The list is a combination of our personal favorites and recommendations from peers.

We did not delineate or mark those that are in the children/YA category. We feel strongly that those who wish to write for adults or children/YA would benefit from reading what we’re calling masters. And, we think that those who wish to strengthen their ability to select/review books about American Indians would benefit from reading the books, too. So many authors who give talks and workshops tell people that in order to write, they have to read.

I have linked some of the children’s and YA titles to reviews and records.  If I have missed any, please let me know.

Thank you Debbie, Susan, Teresa, and Tim for passing this along.  I am very pleased and moved to host it here.

A Work in Progress: Top One Hundred Books by Indigenous Writers

Compiled for ATALM [1] 2012, by

Susan Hanks, Debbie Reese, Teresa Runnels, and Tim Tingle [2]

Updated on February 24, 2014

 

After a year of informal surveys and queries, we offer a list of over 100 books that every museum and library should have on their shelves. Written by tribal members, these books are the foundation of our literature as Indigenous people. Just as Western culture promotes Shakespeare as a prerequisite to grasping the essence of Western word arts, we promote N. Scott Momaday, D’Arcy McNickle, and many, many others to insure that our future writers reference, in images and ideas, our Indigenous masters.

 

Among our list are books written for children and young adults. Though often seen as “less than” because of their intended reader, we believe books for children are as important—if not more important—than books for adults. The future of our Nations will be in the hands of our children. Books that reflect them and their nations are crucial to the well being of all our Nations.

 

Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene)

  • The Business of Fancydancing
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
  • Reservation Blues

 

Rilla Askew (Choctaw)

  • Mercy Seat

 

Beverly Blacksheep (Navajo)

 

Kimberly Blaeser (White Earth Ojibwe)

  • Absentee Indians and Other Poems

 

Joseph Boyden (Metis/Micmac)

  • Three Day Road

 

Jim Bruchac and Joe Bruchac (Abenaki)

 

Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)

 

Ignatia Broker (Ojibwe)

  • Night Flying Woman

 

Emily Ivanoff Brown (Native Village of Unalakleet)

  • The Longest Story Ever Told: Qayak, The Magical Man

 

Nicola Campbell (Interior Salish)

 

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

 

Robert Conley (Cherokee)

  • Medicine War
  • The Witch of Going Snake

 

Ella Deloria (Yankton Sioux)

  • Waterlily

 

Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Lakota)

  • Custer Died For Your Sins
  • Red Earth, White Lies

 

Jennifer Denetdale (Dine)

  • The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile
  • Reclaiming Dine History

 

Echo-Hawk, Roger C. and Walter C. Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)

  • Battlefields and Burial Grounds: The Indian Struggle to Protect Ancestral Graves in the United States

 

Walter C. Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)

  • In the Courts of the Conqueror: the 10 Worst Law Cases Ever Decided

 

Heid Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)

  • Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems

 

Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)

  • The Beet Queen
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at No Horse

           

Jack D. Forbes (Powhatan Delaware)

  • Only Approved Indians: Stories
  • Red Blood
  • Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples

 

Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)

  • A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function
  • Extra Indians
  • Mending Skins

 

Diane Glancy (Cherokee)

  • Pushing the Bear

 

Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek)

  • For a Girl Becoming
  • In Mad Love and War
  • Reinventing the Enemies Language

 

Tomson Highway (Cree)

  • Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing
  • Kiss of the Fur Queen

 

Geary Hobson (Cherokee, Quapaw)

  • The Last of the Ofos
  • The Remembered Earth

 

Linda Hogan (Chickasaw)

  • Mean Spirit
  • Red Clay: Poems & Stories
  • Solar Storms
  • The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir

 

LeAnne Howe (Choctaw)

  • Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story
  • Shell Shaker

 

Hershman John (Navajo)

  • I Swallow Turquoise for Courage

 

Thomas King (Cherokee)

  • Medicine River
  • One Good Story, That One

 

Michael Lacapa (Apache/Hopi)

  • Antelope Woman
  • Less than Half, More Than Whole

 

Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe/Chippewa/Anishinabe)

  • All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life

 

Adrian Louis (Paiute)

  • Among the Dog Eaters
  • Shedding Skins
  • Skin
  • Wild Indians and Other Creatures

 

Larry Loyie (Cree)

  • As Long as the Rivers Flow: A Last Summer Before Residential School

 

Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee) and Michael Wallace

  • A Chief and Her People

 

Joseph Marshall III (Lakota Sioux)

  • The Journey of Crazy Horse
  • The Lakota Way

 

John Joseph Matthews (Osage)

  • Sundown

 

Janet McAdams (Creek)

  • After Removal (with Geary Hobson and Kathryn Walkiewicz)
  • The Island of Lost Luggage
  • The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing
  • Red Weather

 

Joseph Medicine Crow (Crow)

  • Counting Coup

 

Carla Messinger (Lenape)

  • When the Shadbush Blooms

 

N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa)

  • House Made of Dawn
  • The Way to Rainey Mountain

 

D’Arcy McNickle (Cree)

  • The Hawk is Hungry
  • Runner in the Sun
  • The Surrounded
  • Wind from an Enemy Sky

 

Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo)

  • Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay

 

Jim Northrup (Ojibwe)

  • Walking the Rez Road                                   

 

Simon Ortiz (Acoma)

  • The Good Rainbow Road/Rawa ‘Kashtyaa’tsi  Hiyaani
  • Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories
  • The People Shall Continue
  • From Sand Creek

 

Louis Owens (Choctaw)

  • The Bone Game
  • Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place
  • The Sharpest Sight
  • Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel

 

Leonard Peltier (Anishinabe/Lakota)

  • Prison Writings
  • My Life is My Sun Dance

 

William Penn (Nez Perce/Osage)

  • All My Sins Are Relatives

 

Susan Power (Sioux)

  • The Grass Dancer

 

Marcie Rendon (Anishinabe)

  • Pow Wow Summer

 

Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo)

  • Almanac of the Dead
  • Ceremony
  • Laguna Women: Poems
  • Storyteller

 

Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki)

  • Muskrat Will Be Swimming

 

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek)

 

Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche)

  • Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong

 

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Lakota Sioux)

 

Allen J. Sockabasin (Passamaquoddy)

  • Thanks to the Animals

 

Shirley Sterling (Salish)

  • My Name is Seepeetza

 

Chief Jake Swamp (Mohawk)

 

Luci Tapahonso (Dine)

  • A Breeze Swept Through: Poetry
  • Blue Horses Rush In: Poems and Stories
  • Songs of Shiprock Fair

 

Drew Hayden Taylor (Curve Lake Ojibwe)

  • The Night Wanderer

 

Tim Tingle (Choctaw)

  • House of Purple Cedar

 

Laura Tohe (Navajo)

  • No Parole Today

 

Richard Van Camp (Dogrib)

  • The Lesser Blessed
  • The Moon of Letting Go: and Other Stories
  • Path of the Warrior

 

Jan Bourdeau Waboose (Ojibway)

  • Morning on the Lake
  • SkySisters

 

Velma Wallis (Athabascan)

  • Two Old Women:  An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival

 

Anna Lee Walters (Pawnee/Otoe)

  • Ghost Singer

 

James Welch (Blackfoot/Gros Ventre)

  • Fool’s Crow
  • Heartsong of Charging Elk
  • Indian Lawyer
  • Winter in the Blood

 

Bernelda Wheeler (Cree/Assiniboine/Saulteaux)

  • I Can’t Have Bannock but the Beaver Has a Dam
  • Where Did You Get Your Moccasins?

 

Robert A. Williams (Lumbee)

  • Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the History of Racism in America

 

Daniel H. Wilson (Cherokee)

  • Robopocalypse

 

Craig Womack (Creek)

  • Drowning in Fire
  • Red On Red: Native American Literary Separatism

 

For further information and titles, contact Susan Hanks at Susan.Hanks@library.ca.gov, Debbie Reese at dreese.nambe@gmail.com, Teresa Runnels at trunnel@tulsalibrary.org, or Tim Tingle at timtingle@hotmail.com.

 


[1] The 2012 conference of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ATALM Website: http://www.atalm.org/

[2] This list was compiled for presentation at the ATALM conference. We encourage all librarians to purchase a copy of every book by the writers on our list, and we encourage you to ask when out-of-print books will be back in print. In preparing our list, we limited ourselves to no more than four titles per author. The titles are our personal favorites. Our contact info is below.

 

 

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19. The Birchbark House

erdrich birchbark house 300x216 The Birchbark HouseLouise Erdrich’s historical novel The Birchbark House is the first in a series, each book following a child from a different generation in an Ojibwa community.

Often, books for children contain a central character who is about the same age as the book’s readers. The Birchbark House would be a tough read for most children who are Omakayas’s age. There are beautiful descriptive passages that young readers tend to gloss over, and difficult vocabulary, including some Ojibwe words. For these reasons, it works best when read aloud to those younger grades — as Robin Smith discusses in her article.

What did you think of this book? And what about reading aloud in school? For those of you who are teachers, do you? And what books have you found that work best?

share save 171 16 The Birchbark House

The post The Birchbark House appeared first on The Horn Book.

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20. Who Gets To Write What?

I tuned into ESPN the other night, clicking away at my laptop as I waited for the Stanford-North Carolina women’s basketball game to begin. The end of the Louisville-Maryland contest was on. There was about a minute left, and Louisville was losing by 10 points, which pretty much guaranteed Maryland the win. But wait. A Louisville player, number 23, floated in a terrific three-point shot with 30 seconds left. Then the same player hit another three-pointer with 18 seconds left. And yet another with five seconds left. Maryland had made two foul shots during the Louisville run, and the score was now 76-73. But it was Louisville’s ball. One more three-pointer would send the game into overtime.

I’m a sucker for an athlete who performs well under pressure, so I put down my laptop and stared at the screen. The announcers were full of praise for the Louisville player, a senior named Shoni Schimmel. I have rarely seen anyone with a smoother, more poetic stroke. When Maryland took a timeout before the game's last play, I went back to my computer and Googled her.

I admit I don’t follow college basketball as much as I should. If I did, I would have known that Shoni, and her sister Jude, who also plays for the University of Louisville, are a genuine phenomenon. Their games attract thousands of people who drive from all over the U.S. and Canada to see them. The sisters are Native Americans who grew up on the Umatilla reservation in Pendleton, Oregon. Their success has galvanized Native fans and even attracted a filmmaker, who made a documentary about them titled Off the Rez.

As I read about the Schimmel sisters, I thought, “This is a great story. I should write it.” You probably know that I’ve made a career bringing the true tales of athletes and other bold and brilliant women to the mainstream. As first Shoni and then Jude graduate from college and enter the WNBA, their journeys should have the makings of a great book.

But then I wondered, “Should I write it?” In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about the underrepresentation of people of color in children’s books. The postings on multicultural literature on the listserv of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, were coming fast and furious the entire month of February. A few weeks later, Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers wrote companion essays in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times under the title, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”

One of the strands on the CCBC listserv focused on who actually writes books with characters or subjects of color, and as a corollary, who shouldwrite those books. A number of posters were pretty adamant that they thought books were more authentic—and by extension more acceptable—when they were written by members of the groups they portrayed. By that logic, a book about the Schimmel sisters would be best by a Native person. But why should authors be limited by their backgrounds? I’ve written more than a dozen books, including three biographies, and I’ve never written one with a main character who shares my Jewish heritage. For me, part of the joy of writing nonfiction is getting to explore new worlds while developing the context to tell the story.

That’s what I was thinking as I read many of the CCBC posts. And now I’m finally putting it into words. People expressed a valid concern about getting a more diverse pool of authors (and editors) producing children’s books, but I don’t feel that any authors should be dissuaded from tackling any topics that ignite their passions. Every voice is valid and every perspective is worth considering as we inspire kids' curiosity about and understanding of the world around them.
------------
For the record, Louisville didn’t win the game, despite an inspired play that put the ball in Schimmel’s hands for one more three-point attempt. She shot, and the ball hit the rim and ricocheted away as time ran out. It was Shoni’s last college game, but hopefully the prelude to an exciting professional career. Perhaps someone will write a book about Shoni and her sister one day. Perhaps it will be me.

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21. Cover Reveal: Rose Eagle

Last fall, Tu Books released Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure by Joseph Bruchac. Readers were introduced to seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen, a kick-butt warrior who kills monsters to ensure the safety of her family.

Set to be released next month, Joseph Bruchac has written an e-novella that’s a prequel to Killer of Enemies, titled Rose Eagle.

Rose Eagle is set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where readers are introduced to seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe who is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.

Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.

rose eagle coverThanks to the following blogs for participating in the Rose Eagle cover reveal:

Beyond Victoriana

Finding Wonderland

Rich in Color

We can’t wait to hear what you think of the cover!


Filed under: Book News, Cover Design, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: black hills, cover reveal, dystopia, family, first love, friendship, genetic engineering, healer, healing, Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, lakota, medicine woman, mining, native americans, novella, rose eagle, science fiction, south dakota, steampunk

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22. Mayflower 1620 A New Look At A Pilgrim Voyage

Mayflower 1620 A New Look At A Pilgrim Voyage by Plimoth Plantation with Peter Arenstram, John Kemp and Catherine O'Neill Grace; Photographs by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. National Geographic. Library copy.

The Plot: A look at the myths and legends of the Mayflower voyage and founding of Plymouth. Full of gorgeous photos from some of the sailing done by the Mayflower II.

The Good: How do you bring to life a time in the past that existed before photography, let alone color photography? By well done recreations, including the ones done by the Plimoth Plantation organization that are based not on wish fulfilment, myths, or legends, but on research. And the actual journey wasn't redone in the new ship; but the Mayflower II has traveled up and down the East Coast of the US.

This book is full of interesting details, and always sticks to the facts. It explains, simply, that "history is complicated. People sailed on the Mayflower for different reasons." A list of provisions is included, but it's clearly noted that the list is from a 1629 ship making a similar voyage with a similar number of passengers and mariners. It sorts myths from reality; and yes, it clearly states that the corn was stolen. The chronology starts 4,000 to 1,000 years before 1620.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as I've mentioned before in My 2006 Thanksgiving Post. I like the turkey; I like the history. But even with a favorite, one has to acknowledge its faults and consider the whole picture; the bigger picture; and what it means to people besides me.

So, must-reads for keeping attitudes and teaching about Thanksgiving real are American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving (10/2009) from Debbie Reese (aka the blog American Indians in Children's Literature); American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving, PDF, from National Museum of the American Indian (link from Reese); for use year round, Teacher and Librarian Resources for Children's and YA Books with Native Themes from Cynthia Leitich Smith; and Native Youth Literature widget from JacketFlap; thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for reminding me of this widget, which is on my sidebar for the month of November.

Nonfiction Monday is at Abby (the) Librarian.

I like the sound of this middle reader history book. I'm going to recommend it for my nephews.

Susan T. said, on 11/9/2009 7:27:00 AM

Liz, thanks. I will look for this one. Have you made it to Plimoth Plantation yet? I went many years ago, and was hoping to take Jr. this fall.

Monica Edinger said, on 11/9/2009 7:49:00 AM

The Mayflower II is one of the exhibits at Plimoth Plantation, an outstanding living history museum which does an excellent job addressing all aspects of this mytholized story. (BTW, I've been doing a unit on this for ages, written about it in books and articles --- lots on my blog and classrom blog if people want to know more.)

Liz B said, on 11/9/2009 8:49:00 AM

Beth, hope they like it.

Susan, I went when I was just a few years older than Jr. I would LOVE to go again as a grown up.

Monica, do you have a specific URL (or using a specific tag) so that I can add that link/info to my post? So that I can send them to a particular post/posts?

Monica Edinger said, on 11/9/2009 9:33:00 AM

Can I do URLs here? Let's see:

For my class stuff:
http://blogs.dalton.org/edinger/category/pilgrims/

Old Scholastic piece on Thanksgiving sites: http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=2764

Might also try to find my article, "The Pilgrim Maid and the Indian Chief" (Educational Leadership, v63 n2 p78-81 Oct 2005). I've also got chapters in my books Seeking History and Far Away and Long Ago books on the topic.

Anonymous said, on 11/11/2009 7:17:00 PM

With this kind of book, it is helpful to have an age range. My first grader might love this or it might be way over his head. (I may get it for me and save it for him!).

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23. Cybils Nominee!

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 Charles C. Mann

This is a young reader's version of Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

It's visually stunning and completely changes everything I had ever been taught about what life was like in the Americas before Columbus. I appreciated how it handles some controversies between experts. It gives both sides of the issue in a way that's completely understandable, but still respects the reader's intelligence. Did I mention visually stunning? Really excellent book design. And the content just blew my mind, I can't even begin to get into all of it here without just summarizing the entire book.

My only fault with it lies in the back matter-- or rather, the lack of it. There is no bibliography or source notes (except for illustrations. Lots of source notes for illustration.) I see this a lot with young reader versions of adult nonfiction. The author knows all this, because he/she's essentially condensing and argument already made, a story already told. If we want sources, we can go to the "real" version. They don't want to cite it all over again. Grrrrrrrrrrr. That's not something that really holds with me. Young Readers need sources, too. Also, the "further reading" list has only 13 titles, many of with are written for adults, not Young Readers.

It's too bad, because with better back matter, this could have been an outstanding example of what nonfiction for kids should be like.

Book Provided by... my local library

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24. Native Americans in Children’s Literature

 

Native Americans in Children’s Literature

By

Jennifer Porter

Just over a year ago, my then fifth grade homeschooled daughter said to me, in the midst of reading historical fiction aloud with her, “I am sick and tired of these books about the so-called terrible Indians when it was the white people who stole their land. Aren’t there any books told by the Indians?”

I answered, “I don’t know. But you’re right, these books have not told the truth.” And we talked about how our ancestors were both the Europeans that came to America and stole the land and also the Native Americans that fought back against the invasion. I promised to find her books that would honor our American Indian ancestors, and by telling the truth, also honor our European ancestors.

After reading countless books and researching this issue, I was left with some conclusions. One, there is a plethora of offensive children’s books about Native Americans and two, it is an enormous undertaking to write about Native Americans. And it seems lately, that there is an opening in our culture to begin an earnest discussion about the history of the American Indian.  For years I have been researching the tribes my American Indian ancestors came from, and it is possible now through advanced DNA testing to get some answers. It has become popular to find our ancestors. There are genealogy shows about celebrities on television and there are popular websites devoted to family history, such as ancestry.com.

Recently, PBS ran a series of American history shows from the perspective and viewpoint of the American Indian. And last October, President Obama declared November 2009 as Native American Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month has come off and on to our country since 1990 and has its own website: http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.

President Obama wrote in his declaration, “During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.”

Our society needs children’s books about the American Indians. Books about what happened in the past, biographies of American Indians, and all the ways American Indians contribute now.

But the last thing I think any children’s author would want is to have their story listed as a book that is not recommended and is deemed harmful to the well-being of children, including American Indian children. According to a 2008 article on the Poverty & Race Research Council site, there are today in these United States, 560 federally recognized American Indian tribes, approximately four million people, and 42% of these American Indians are under the age of nineteen. These numbers do not include what must be in the tens of thousands, people such as myself of Native American descent but raised within another culture and not belonging to a tribe.

The Oyate organization defines itself, according to their website (www.oyate.org), as “a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know our stories belong to us.” Oyate conducts critical evaluations of books and curricula that contain “Indian themes” and it also conducts workshops, has a reference library and distributes materials, especially that written by Native people. Oyate is the Dakota word for ‘people’, says the website. Oyate maintains a list of not recommended children’s books.

Eight of the twenty-eight worst books on Oyate’s books to avoid list were published in 2005 and after. Among the authors on the list of twenty-eight books: Janet Heller, Ann Rinaldi, Cynthia Rylant and Kathy Jo Wargin. Among the titles: I Am Apache, Touching Spirit Bear, and D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet.

Debbie Reese, tribally enrolled in the Nambe Pueblo and a professor in the American Indian Studies program at University of Illinois at

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25. Old Abe, Eagle Hero

The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot written by Patrick Young illustrated by Anne Lee Traditionally-told biography of a bald eagle who was a wartime mascot, which is sort of odd when you think about it.  I thought so at least. But this book has bigger fish to fry, like the fact that it's riddled with inaccuracy.   "Found" in a nest high in a tree (i.e. stolen from its home) a Native American (

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