Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How Not to Catch Fish and other Adventures of Iktomi

{Note: This review is used by permission of its author and may not be published elsewhere without her written permission.)


Marshall, Joseph M. (Lakota), How Not to Catch Fish and Other Adventures of Iktomi, illustrated by Joseph Chamberlain (Nakota). Circle Studios, 2005. 55 pages, color illustrations, grades 4-up; Dakota

“As usual, Iktomi was having an Iktomi sort of a day—doing as little as possible.” You see, Iktomi is a “non-farmer, non-hunter, and non-fisherman” (i.e., he has no useful skills nor does he have the drive to learn any). In these hilarious stories, Iktomi—ever hungry and/or sleepy—is swallowed by the largest catfish he has ever seen, is forced to return a Grade A premium piece of meat he had stolen, is trapped between two ash trees (because he annoyed Wind once too often), forgets to believe he can fly (with the expected results), apologizes to Old Bear (who is not exactly the forgiving type). Et cetera.

In one of my favorites, Iktomi, convinced that Pond is playing tricks on him, seeks out the advice of Rabbit:

“Various environmental and seasonal climactic factors contributed to the visual representation of your reflection in the pond, thus skewing your perception of the aforementioned reflection.” Iktomi was totally confused.

Don’t be put off by the length of each story; Marshall’s pacing is perfect. Along with a CD of Marshall telling the stories, How Not to Catch Fish is way better than anything cultural outsiders—like Paul Goble—who don’t know Iktomi have ever written.—Beverly Slapin

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tim Tingle's Crossing Bok Chitto wins book award

Tim Tingle's Crossing Bok Chitto was selected as a recipient of the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards. These awards are given annually to children's books that, according to the Jane Adams website, "promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence." Tim's book has been discussed on this blog before (see review in the "Books Discussed" section of this page.) Below is the blurb from the Jane Addams webpage. It's an outstanding book. I am very happy to see it given this distinction.

The Choctaw people live on one side of the river Bok Chitto; plantation owners and African American slaves live on the other. A secret friendship between a Choctaw girl and an African-American boy is the first link in a chain of humanity that spirits the boy’s family across the river to freedom. The folk tale is a tribute to the Choctaws and Indians of every nation who aided African Americans running from slavery. Earth-tone paintings and striking use of white express the story’s blend of reality and magic perfectly.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Kids and Joy Harjo's The Good Luck Cat

Go to Joy Harjo's blog, scroll down to her entry for April 28th, and see a photo of three kids, holding copies of her picture book, The Good Luck Cat.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Queen Elizabeth, American Indians, and Comments from Abroad

In the April 29th edition of the UK's Sunday Times is an article titled "Queen flies into PC war over fate of American Indians." The Queen is flying to Virginia to take part in a commemoration to mark the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown. The lives of American Indians and Africans are part of the story of Jamestown. Hence, the use of "commemorate" rather than "celebrate."

Note also, that it is cast as "PC" by the reporter, Sarah Baxter. Some may view it as PC; I view it as a significant effort to be honest, to be thoughtful about that period of history.

How do children's books, fiction and non-fiction, talk about Jamestown?

What about lesson plans? Documentaries? Feature films?

The article says the Queen is being asked to apologize "for the slaughter of American Indians and the introduction of slavery..." Comments ask about apologies from the US government. The comments thus far (ten as I write) generally say "get over it" and remind me of my interest in knowing how children's books in other nations portray American Indians.

Read the article (I don't know how long it'll be available on line; many papers charge for articles after a few days). It provides much to think about.