Web: Whiteness

Some black authors of the 1800s available free online, and exploration of whiteness and color in modern art.

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After reading Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People (which I highly recommend), I have a long reading list.

David Walker’s Appeal: in four articles, together with a preamble, to the coloured citizens of the world, but in particular, and very expressly, to those of the United States of America, a 1829 tract by a free black man who also wrote for Freedom’s Journal and delivered addresses on Haitian independence and other topics.

Hosea Easton was another activist, who wrote A Treatise on the Intellectual Character and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States; and the Prejudice Exercised towards Them: with a Sermon on the Duty of the Church to Them.  (Also found here.)  Interestingly, his father was descended from Wampanoag and Narragansett peoples, but he disavowed any Native blood to ensure his citizenship.

William Wells Brown is an author with prolific and varied output.  He’s written a novel, collection of hymns, memoir, travelogue, and the 1874 book Painter cites, titled The Rising Son; or, the Antecedents and Achievements of the Colored Race.  I have yet to find that one online but am sure it must exist.

Aside from those new-to-me reads, this book also got me thinking about the concept of whiteness.  Not just racially, but also in art (since race and art can intersect beyond literature).

Vox has an interesting take on all white art found in museums (warning for swears):

The Art Assignment has a conversation with Odili Donald Odita about whitescapes and the use and meaning of color, ending with an assignment to try:

 

Board Book Review: My Heart Fills with Happiness

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.

My Heart Fills With Happiness cover resized
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett.

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.

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Web: Board Book Lists

Some other diverse board book lists.

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.

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We Sang You Home back cover with text “When wishes come true.”

AICL has a great list of Native board books.

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.

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Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin.

PragmaticMom has a good top ten of multicultural board books.  The caveat is that I would NOT recommend Mama, Mama, Do You Love Me? – see above for better Native books.

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It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young.

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.

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Whose Knees Are These by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

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.

 

Board Book Review: We Sang You Home

Just go buy this book. I’ll wait.

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.

We Sang You Home cover resized

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.

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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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Web: Some #100indigenousbooks Lists

As I introduced earlier, this year I began a new project – to read 100 books by indigenous authors.  You can check out my progress on this page.

My main source of appropriate new-to-me books have been these lists from AICL.

I also am hoping to read many of the AIYLA winners.

Beyond that, I am also looking at authors.  Cynthia Leitich-Smith is now on auto-buy for me, and Louise Erdrich‘s historical fiction is a must read.  Anything illustrated by Julie Flett is probably wonderful, and Sherman Alexie is a solid author, as is Joseph Bruchac.  I definitely want to read more Richard Van Camp, even though it’s difficult to get some of his books in the US.

Here’s a great list I recently found: 7 Female American Indian Novelists which goes beyond the well-known and prolific to highlight some lesser-known novelists, including some #ownvoices genre fiction!

If you like graphic novels, this article has links to many Native comic books (plus a lot of cool nerdy pictures).  Another option is the Moonshot anthology which I’m hoping will give me more leads on new-to-me Native graphic novels.

For YA reading, there’s a list over at the School Library Journal: Teen Books by Native Writers to Trumpet Year-Round.

I’ve also been looking at this List of 2016 Releases by Native Authors.  Specific information is not provided on all of the authors, so it will require some more research, but is a good place to start.  I’ve already ordered a copy of The Right to be Cold based on the mostly positive reviews I’ve seen so far.

Although I probably won’t be reading most of these (because I think the majority of the adult #100indigenousbooks I read will be non-fiction), this TBR list also had a lot of new-to-me names.

What other booklists should I be looking at to diversify my reading with more Native authors?

Can anyone recommend some indigenous authors from other parts of the world?  I have a few native Australian authors on my TBR but would love to read some more and don’t have any leads on South American indigenous books.

 

Review: The Birchbark House

“She was named Omakayas, or Little Frog, because her first step was a hop.” page 5

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich.
Disney Hyperion, New York, 1999, my edition 2002.
Historical fiction, 244 pages including glossary.
National Book Award Finalist
Lexile:  970L  .
AR Level:  6.1 (worth 7.0 points)  .
NOTES: This is a work of fiction although I am not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
While the main character is seven, I would recommend this book for older children.

This is one year in the life of seven-year-old Omakayas (Oh-MAH-kay-ahs), an Ojibwa (Anishinabe) girl, in 1847.

The Birchbark House Cover

Wow.  From the suspenseful prologue to the last word, I was fully immersed in this book.  The best historical fiction I’ve read in a long time, I might even like it better than Abby Takes a Stand.  To think I didn’t really want to read it that much!

I’d seen this book recommended so many times, but was avoiding it because I was required to read one of Silko’s books in college and did not like it.  That book was The Antelope Wife.  I found it unreadable – one of very few required novels I didn’t read cover to cover.  My professor was trying to be modern and avant-garde but the book was incomprehensible and had no plot, just intricate emotionally-laden descriptions that initially intrigued and later bored me.  I’m so glad to see that Erdrich has rewritten that book and the new edition is supposed to be much more readable, because in this book, I absolutely loved her take on historical fiction.

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