“But I had no idea, even in my wildest dreams, that the very language those bilagdanaa teacher tried to erase – the way you wipe words from a blackboard – would one day be needed by important white men.” page 27
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac.
Speak, Penguin Group, New York, 2005.
Historical fiction, 231 pages.
Lexile: 910L .
AR Level: 6.4 (worth 9.0 points) .
This novel follows fictional narrator Ned Begay through his life, focusing particularly on his experiences as a Navajo code talker.
The framework of this story is that it is a story that a grandfather is telling to his grandchildren. This idea is presented in the introduction and mentioned sporadically throughout the novel as well as in the final chapter. I was a bit iffy about this device, but Bruchac used it beautifully.
“To be a human being is an honor, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life.” page 4
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrate by Erwin Printup, Jr.
My edition Scholastic, New York, 1997, originally published by Lee and Low, 1995.
Picture book, 24 pages.
Lexile: AD520L ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level: 3.3 (worth 0.5 points) .
NOTE: There is another book by the same title but subtitled “The 1621 Harvest Feast.”
A children’s book adaptation of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address by Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp.
This is one of those books that gives the lie to publishers who say they can’t find qualified Native authors and illustrators. Already back in 1995, Lee and Low had Cayuga/Tuscarora painter Erwin Printup, who not only has a degree in fine arts, but also provides gorgeous, culturally appropriate illustrations for this title. In fact, we were so taken with this book that I went searching for other children’s books illustrated by Printup. But it seems that he was also underemployed, because all I found was a few anthologies he was included in.
While this is a handy alternative for librarians to give parents and teachers who insist on Thanksgiving books, truly this book could be read at any time of year. As Swamp explains in his can’t-miss author’s note, not only is the Thanksgiving Address read at every gathering of the Six Nations, it’s also taught to children as a morning thank you.
One of my 2018 goals is to read and review more historical fiction. When I set this goal, I knew I had approximately 10 books in the genre waiting. So I decided to make a TBR. After gathering all the books from around the house, I was shocked to see that I had 30 books to review!
Before we get started, I should probably state two things. First, this is not a recommended list – just what I’m planning to read. Second, I wrote this list quite a while ago (it was challenging to get cover pictures for all the books and still the whole list won’t load all the photos…) so since then I’ve found a few more. I’ve even written reviews for a few on this list! Continue reading “Historical Fiction Roundup & TBR”
Our tenth board book will bring joy to your heart.
And has narwhals!
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrations by Julie Flett.
Orca Books, 2016.
Board book, 24 pages.
Lexile: AD280L ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
This simple book asks us “What fills your heart with happiness?” and gives many examples of things that might make us happy.
Julie Flett is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. She has a great sense of color and space. As soon as I saw the review at AICL, I wanted this book! Most of the libraries I work at don’t circulate board books, so this was high on my wish list, but it took a while to arrive which is why this and We Sang You Home were not in use sooner.
So, a while back I mentioned that when I started reviewing board books, it was difficult to find diverse board book lists. That wasn’t so much because they don’t exist, as because most of the ones I found have problematic content, or are board and picture books mixed together. Here are a few pretty good ones.
This is important because most other lists (including some I’ll share) have poor indigenous representation. I always look for a review from AICL or an #ownvoices reviewer, and check if the author/illustrator are Native.
While it wasn’t recommended as a “diverse books list”, I loved that most of the books on this list are diverse, including Hawaiian, Native, and specialty religious books that are diverse.
And finally, Drivel and Drool has a list broken down by ethnicity of the main character, with again the caveat to please check the Native books against AICL’s listing as some are problematic. I like that this book includes some nonfiction board books.
We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, illustrations by Julie Flett.
Orca Books, 2016.
Board book, 26 pages.
This lyrical book is the story of a family – two parents, and the baby they sang home and love.
The book starts with a couple on a blanket in the forest, singing. Then they are joined by a tiny baby as they go about their day. Baby sleeps and snuggles and grows teeth and crawls and gardens with mom and even walks until eventually they are back in the forest singing with baby.
The text is a poem or a prayer written in the second person, which normally I dislike, but works perfectly for this book intended to be read from parent to child. There are two lines on the left page of every two-page spread except the final one, which ends with the final picture across from the copyright page.