Review: The Warriors

“Although everyone at Weltimore wore the same school uniform, it somehow made the differences more obvious.” page 73

The Warriors by Joseph Bruchac.
Carolrhoda Books, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003.
Middle grade sports fiction, 127 pages.
Lexile:  810L  .
AR Level:  5.5 (worth 3.0 points)  .
NOTE: Although I’m not reviewing this on Fiction Friday, it is a work of fiction.

Jake’s mother has finally decided they need to spend more time together.  He whole-heartedly agrees, but doesn’t like that this means moving off the reservation, being the only Native in a fancy school, and giving up lacrosse.  Is there any way to make his new classmates understand the true spirit of the game?

The Warriors
The Warriors by Joseph Bruchac.

Well, it had to happen eventually that I would read a book I didn’t love!  So far all the books I’ve reviewed for my #100indigenousbooks project have been great, I must really have been picking them!

To be fair, this is a sports novel, and I dislike most sporting fiction.  I felt about the same as I would about a Matt Christopher sport novel, which is pretty similar to this book.

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New (to me) Books I’m Excited About

So, I posted a while ago about books that I was excited to read – namely two books I pre-ordered (something I rarely do).  Now that it’s the end of May, both books should be arriving at my door soon!

Lately I’ve been on a bit of a buying spree, so I’m not pre-ordering any more books, but there are a few books that I’m excited about.  Most are new or recent releases, but a few are new-to-me.  Two I already own (so you can look for reviews later this summer). Continue reading “New (to me) Books I’m Excited About”

Review: Absolutely True Diary Part-Time Indian

“Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. // I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other.” page 118

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Novel by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney.
Little, Brown, and Company, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2007, my edition 2009.
YA realistic fiction, 230 pages not including extras.
Winner of many awards including a National Book Award.
Lexile:  600L  .
AR Level:  4.0 (worth 6.0 points)  .
NOTE: Due to content, this is not generally recommended for middle school students.

Junior is a Spokane Indian with a life from a Greek tragedy – medical woes, funerals, poverty, and picked on, he still tries to find the humor in life and look for the hope in his future in this semi-autobiographical novel.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian resized

Despite all the accolades, and my recent positive experiences of Alexie’s work, I did not expect to love this book the way I did.  Alexie seems mostly known for his literary fiction.  Diary is a YA book still interesting to the general adult fiction reader.  Unlike The Sun is Also a Star, which I might recommend to certain adults, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian is a teen coming-of-age story that I would recommend to almost any adult reader.  Arnold Spirit, Junior, is a Spokane Indian with hydrocephalus, a stutter, and a few other challenges, like dire poverty and 30-year-old textbooks.

Despite a life where the cards seem stacked against him, Junior perseveres, chasing his hope through tragic deaths and ridiculous logistics (how do you get to school 22 miles away when you’re incredibly poor and there’s no bus?  Answer: sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes you walk.)

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Review: The Outside Circle

This gorgeous and gritty graphic novel will educate everyone, not just indigenous Canadians, about institutional racism and other topics.

The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, illustrated by Kelly Mellings.
House of Anansi, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2015.
Adult graphic novel, 120 pages.
CODE’s 2016 Burt Award for First Nation, Inuit and Métis Literature Winner.
Not leveled.

Pete and his younger brother Joey only have each other and their drug-addicted mother to get through their violent, gritty urban life.  But when their mother’s boyfriend pushes them too far, Pete ends up in jail and Joey in foster care.  What will happen to their family?  Can Pete’s gang become their new family?

The Outside Circle

This book is about Canadian urban aboriginals.  Because I am American and not indigenous, I was surprised by the way it sucked me in as we read about generational poverty and the systematic dehumanization and institutionalized racism that had affected Pete’s entire family.  So much of what I read applies to so many other groups, and reading about Pete and his family was an easy way to absorb how these things can alter a family for generations at a time.

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Review: Mission to Space

“I am Commander John B. Herrington and I am Chickasaw.” page 4

Mission to Space by John Herrington.
White Dog Press, Chickasaw Press, Ada, Oklahoma, 2016.
Picture book informative non-fiction, 20 pages including glossary.
Not yet leveled.

John Herrington tells about space travel, including the preparations for what happened during his trip to space.  Since he is an enrolled tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, his experiences as an astronaut are also viewed through the lens of his indigenous heritage.

Mission to Space

I had to get this after reading Debbie Reese’s review at AICL.  Not only did she strongly recommend it, but the pictures she shared from the book also had me convinced that this would be great for my students.  Many of them love space, and most are ill-informed about indigenous peoples, so this book would be a great way to interest and educate.  Plus, the book trailer was great too.

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100 Indigenous Books

Back in 2015, I started reading diverse.

In 2016, I got educated about #ownvoices (and started this blog).

What will 2017 bring?

I have some specific goals in mind.  Although the main focus here will continue to be children’s books featuring African Americans, I want to branch out into some other areas.

While my actual reviewing of said books is uneven, I read children’s books from most other groups even if they never make it onto my blog.  But even though I’ve been following Debbie Reese on and off for the past decade, I don’t do a good job reading indigenous books.  How can I expect my students to read the American Indian Youth Literature Award winners when I have not?

american-indian-youth-literature-award

Part of this is availability.  None of the libraries I work at have what I would consider a good Native collection, and the local public library is sparse as well, although they have been open to suggestions.  Mostly my power here has been negative, that is, removing outdated books with stereotypes or those that relegate Native culture to the past.

This is ridiculous given that I live in Wisconsin, where Act31 requires the teaching of treaty rights, three periods of Native American studies, and the inclusion of diverse reading materials.

WI tribalgovernmentmap600

This year, I want to be more positive.  We made a start as a family by watching a few videos about modern natives and attending a powwow.

Now I am going to make a promise here: to read 100 books by indigenous authors.

I also have a goal of buying 50 of those 100 books.  We probably won’t keep all of them, so my thought is to donate some to libraries that don’t have them.  I would love to review all 100, but might just read some without reviewing them.

This is a massive undertaking, so I am not going to set a time limit.  Also, many thanks to my amazingly supportive partner, who’s willing to devote a large portion of our family resources towards this and other reading projects, and who selflessly gives up his weekend whenever I decide we need to educate the kids about something.

While I’m guessing most of the books I select will be Native American (and I’m hoping for a lot of Great Lakes area #ownvoices), I’m also going to include indigenous authors from elsewhere in this challenge, mostly Canadian, and likely some indigenous Australians as well.  I’ve already purchased a number of books.

For this challenge, I will be relying heavily on these lists, but I’m open to other sources.  Most of the books will probably be children’s or YA, but I’ll fit in some adult reads as well.

Anyone else want to give this a try?  (You don’t have to do 100 books!)

Update: You can find my booklist here, with notes on the books I’ve purchased, read, and reviewed.