Saturday, June 21, 2008


Yesterday I posted an essay by my colleague, Paulette F. Molin, about activities found in the American Automobile Association's magazine. If you're a member of AAA, take a look at her essay. If you're a classroom teacher or librarian, consider using her essay and the online material for a lesson on critical media literacy. Paulette has been studying curriculum materials since the 1970s.

Paulette has an excellent book out that librarians and teachers should add to their shelves: American Indian Themes in Young Adult Literature. In her foreword is a letter from Genevieve Bell, the woman Scholastic hired to vet (fact check) Ann Rinaldi's My Heart Is on the Ground. Here's part of that letter:

I completely sympathize with the critical review of Rinaldi's work that has proliferated both on the Internet and off it. There is much in the book that is offensive, and I did say so to Scholastic. Indeed, there is much more in this book that is offensive that I missed, which is why I urged Melissa Jenkins [of Scholastic] to get a Lakota person to read it. She knew that I was not Native American. However, I also contracted with Scholastic to fact-check the manuscript and thought it only appropriate that my name be attached to that act. Again, I can only reflect on the naivete that made me think that my comments would be taken seriously enough to change the course of the publication. I am deeply sorry that they did not. And I apologize for the offense that I have given, however, inadvertently (xv).

The book has three sections (Contemporary Literature, Historical Fiction, and Nonfiction). In "Contemporary Literature," you can read her discussion of Lipsyte's three books The Brave, The Chief, and Warrior Angel or see what she has to say about Will Hobbs or Ben Mikaelsen. Course, she also talks about books that are well-done, such as Cynthia Leitich Smith's Rain Is Not My Indian Name.

In the bibliography is an extensive list of articles that will be of interest to librarians and scholars alike. One example: a scholar might want to look at Mary Gloyne Byler's 1974 article in Library Journal, "The Image of American Indians Projected by non-Indian Writers."

Like Through Indian Eyes and A Broken Flute (both subtitled The Native Experience in Books for Children), this is one of those books that belongs in every library.

As noted yesterday, the book is available from Oyate. It was published in 2005 by Scarecrow.

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