Sunday, March 27, 2011

News on Scholastic's "Dear America" series

Are you a fan of the Dear America series of historical fiction diaries published by Scholastic?

Many of the students in my classes at the University of Illinois remember them fondly. And many are disillusioned when we spend time studying Ann Rinaldi's book in the series. That book is My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, A Sioux Girl. Several years ago, I co-wrote an extended review of the book. Today, I reproduced that review for those of you who are having trouble locating it in the Way Back Machine (Internet Archive).

The news about the series is that Scholastic is relaunching it.

"Relaunching" means they're adding new books to the Dear America series, and, they're reissuing five of the older books. Rinaldi's is not among the five, and neither is the one about the Navajo Long Walk. I'm glad Scholastic decided not to reissue those two. I haven't read the five, so can't say (yet) whether or not the Native content in them (if there is any) is accurate.

For information about the launch, see "Fresh Approaches" at School Library Journal's website.

7 comments:

jpm said...

What a relief to know that those two books are not being reissued with the series.

Sam M said...

Hey Debbie, I just read that article and I'm in the middle of reading a handful of DA books I picked out of the series for my research paper and I was wondering about why, seemingly, no one at Scholastic wants to tackle the challenge of providing an accurate portrayal of an American Indian child in these books, having instead chosen to leave native main characters in the dust. While I think it's good for them not to reissue "My Heart is on the Ground" and "The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow" with new, gilded covers like the few that are being revamped, I believe that if Scholastic's stance is to be historically accurate and compelling, as well as to be a provider of tools with which teachers can introduce different periods of American history to young students, they should use the series' popularity to present readers with images of American Indians that don't rely on stereotypes and misconceptions. Personally, I would like to see native characters other than Jacob Black and the Twilight Quileute werewolves dominating the literary scene...

Debbie Reese said...

Sam,

We are on the same page. Scholastic could do a lot.

Are you going to read Lasky's book JOURNEY TO THE NEW WORLD? I tried to get it at the library but it was out. In it, Squanto is converted. I'd have to research THAT to see if it is true, but, I wonder about how she tells the whole Thanksgiving story...

Kristiana Gregory said...

Hello Debbie ... I'm one of the Dear America authors with a re-release, THE WINTER OF RED SNOW, and its sequel, CANNONS AT DAWN [pub date May 1st], about the Revolutionary War.
Until doing research, I wasn't aware that George Washington had ordered Generals Sullivan and Clinton to destroy Iroquois settlements in western New York. For a nano-second I wondered about tarnishing Washington's reputation, but then decided it was vital NOT to omit. My heart weeps at the treatment of Native Americas ... I tried to show this in the novel.

Debbie Reese said...

Kristiana,

I'm glad that you've put that info in there. Can you ask the publisher to send me a review copy?

Several places on my site, I've written about Michael Yellowbird's article TOYS OF GENOCIDE. Have you read it?

Kristiana Gregory said...

... *Native Americans*

p.s. when you read JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD, would love your insight on Squanto and Thanksgiving

Kristiana Gregory said...

Hi again Debbie ... Scholastic is putting the author's name on the front cover of each new Dear America title. Hopefully, this will make it easier for readers to discern that the diary is a work of fiction.