“Suddenly he heard a sound like pebbles being shaken in a hollow gourd. His heart leaped into his throat as he threw himself to one side to keep from stepping on the huge rattlesnake that was coiled in the middle of the trail.” page 78
Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac.
Puffin, Penguin Group, New York, 1996.
MG historical fiction, 154 pages.
Lexile: 950L .
AR Level: 5.5 (worth 5.0 points) .
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
Follow twins Ohkwa’ri and his sister Otsi:stia as they navigate peers who are trying to break the peace treaty, coming of age, and a sacred game of lacrosse.
It’s worth noting that this is NOT an #ownvoices book. Bruchac is Abenaki, a neighboring group to the twins – but the main characters are all Mohawk, members of the Iroquois League of Peace. This book was originally included in a 2006 recommendation list on AICL, but I noticed that as of this writing, Bruchac was conspicuously absent from the August 2020 list of historical fiction recommendations on AICL. This makes sense given that AICL has recently had several neutral or negative reviews of his work, especially when working outside of his own nation. However, given the glowing reviews some of his books have previously gotten, it’s hard to know if he’s still a generally suggested author or not. Continue reading “Review: Children of the Longhouse”
“I read somewhere in an anthropology book that we Sioux ‘thrive on a culture of excitement.’ During the years from 1973 to 1975 we had more than enough excitement for even the most macho warrior, more than we could handle.” p. 192
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes.
HarperPerennial, Harper Collins, New York, 1990. Originally published by Grove Weidenfeld.
Adult autobiography, 264 pages.
Lexile: 970L .
AR Level: not leveled.
The life story of Mary Crow Dog, especially her time with the American Indian Movement and at Wounded Knee.
Every so often I stumble into a book with no expectations. I wasn’t familiar with this title when I got it and started reading with only the basic knowledge that it was a Native American woman’s autobiography. However, instead it was an education!
Our 46th board book is a favorite, and has further uses for language learners.
Cradle Me by Debby Slier.
Star Bright Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012.
Board book, 12 pages.
Ten different babies in ten different cradle boards showing ten different emotions or actions.
This has been a surprise favorite of our children. I knew from Global Babies and other series that they would enjoy seeing real photographs of other babies, but I had no idea this basic book would hold their attention so well.
Some thoughts on a slightly controversial children’s book.
Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast by Kate Waters, photographs by Russ Kendall, in cooperation with the Plimoth Plantation.
Scholastic, New York, 2001.
Picture book, 40 pages.
Lexile: 620L .
AR Level: 3.9 (worth 0.5) .
NOTE: There is another book by the same title but subtitled “A Native American Good Morning Message.”
A 1621 harvest feast as seen through the eyes of two boys, reenacted at Plimoth Plantation.
I feel it’s important to note that this book is on the former Oyate’s List of Thanksgiving Books to Avoid. That’s part of why I checked it out from the library instead of buying. However, I couldn’t find any in-depth reviews, so I decided to look through it myself to see how suitable, if at all, this would be for teaching about the holiday.
Because this is one of the Oyate Books to Avoid, the format of this review will look rather different than most. I decided to use the 11 Myths about Thanksgiving template to consider this book. My overall thoughts will follow. Continue reading “Review: Giving Thanks 1621”
“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.
“The Wampanoag culture is a living culture. Today there are many Wampanoag people living in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.” p. 37
Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters, Photographs by Russ Kendall.
Scholastic, New York, 1996.
Informative fiction, 40 pages.
Lexile: 680L .
AR Level: 4.6 (worth 0.5 points) .
The story of a Wampanoag boy in the 1620s. While others in this series follow an imaginary day in the life of a recorded person, this book aims to show what daily indigenous life was like at the time and place of the Plimoth settlement.
It was with great relief that I found and read this book. Diverse books about Thanksgiving are in short supply, and it is one of the holidays always in demand from both families and teachers.
Before reading it, however, I was sorely disappointed in many of the reviews. Quite a few people made basic errors despite having supposedly read the book. Some confused the time period, assuming it takes place in the present day. Others confused the location, assuming that this one story about the Wampanoag people in what is now Massachusetts/Rhode Island represents an entire continent of indigenous peoples.
The errors in reviewing made it very difficult to determine if I should buy this, so to clarify – this is very clearly a book about Wampanoag life in the 1620s. The one confusion I could see is that a specific date is not given on the title page. However there are four pages of notes outlining the historical and geographical setting so even a cursory glance should clarify when and where this book is set.
“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.
First, I want to apologize. I’ve written in the past about the unique Deaf culture that formed on what is known to many people as Martha’s Vineyard, and even reviewed a book about it. But it never occurred to me to also inform about the indigenous peoples of the area.
I’m sorry for my thoughtless erasure, and would like to point all my readers whether hearing, HH, or Deaf, to this website which will tell you a little more about some of the specific places on the island, their names and significance to the Wampanoag people. Or this page tells more about the Aquinnah Wampanoag who lived on the island then and still live there today.
For young people, here is a video from Scholastic with some modern Wampanoag girls at the heritage site:
Here is another brief introduction for kids. These resources are produced from the Wampanoag Homesite associated with Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.
The Wampanoag people are typically only mentioned by the rest of the country around Thanksgiving, and The Wampanoag Side of the Tale gives one woman’s opinions on the real story of the holiday.
Earlier I posted a review of a true crime book about the murders of Osage during their decades of intense wealth. Here are some links for those interested in learning more, although I will warn that some give away the story in the book, so you may wish to read the book before clicking some of these links.
“It’s the story of an incredibly sinister crime — a true racial injustice. I did not want this to be simply a cataloging of the dead. And I didn’t want it to be cursory. For the most part, when these murders had been written about — if they were mentioned at all — there was no sense of who these people were, or what their lives were like. You never got close to their consciousness or their souls. That’s what I set out to do.”
^ In this interview, Grann talks about how difficult it was for him to write a purely historical book (his others seem to have been straight true crime or adventure books), as well as the challenge of confronting the evil of widespread racism and systematic murder.