Saturday, September 03, 2011

Gertrude Doederlein's LIVING WITH OUR CHILDREN

Scarlett wrote to tell me about a blog post at Awful Library Books in which Holly Hibler (the blogger) wrote about Gertrude Doederlein's Living With Our Children. Part of Hibler's post is about playing Indian. Published in 1941, the book is old. I wish it reflects a past and practice that no longer occurs, but readers of American Indians in Children's Literature know the practice is still with us today... 

Mercer Meyer's JUST ME AND MY MOM

Bummer! (Using that word dates me, eh?!)

Susan Santee-Buenger at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire wrote to tell me about this page in Mercer Meyer's Just Me and My Mom. When my daughter was little, we had--and enjoyed--several of the Little Critter books.

In this part of the book, Little Critter and his mom are at a natural history museum. Meyer is not alone in putting American Indians in natural history museums...  He does, in fact, reflect a reality. Putting us there is a problem! American Indians are often found in natural history museums with the dinosaurs and the bears...  Remember this page from Danny and the Dinosaur

Placing us in natural history museums is a problem! Placing us alongside dinosaurs suggests that is the proper time frame for us to be presented. It isn't. It suggests we are extinct. We are not. It suggests we are primitive. We are not. And, placing us alongside animals suggests we are animal-like, and we are not.

Course, maybe authors could interrupt that problem by having characters challenge the status quo. It would be way cool to have Little Critter or his mom say "Why are American Indians here with dinosaurs and animals instead of in a museum with other peoples?" instead of having Little Critter dress up that way...  Or, to have Little Critter ask a docent "what tribe is this supposed to be?!"  Is that too much to ask for? Is it too didactic?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

New book! GRANDPA'S GIRLS by Nicola Campbell

One of my favorite authors, Nicola Campbell, has a new book out. Titled Grandpa's Girls, I can't wait to see it! Here's the blurb from Groundwood (the publisher):
A young girl delights in a visit to her grandpa's farm. She and her cousins run through the fields, explore the root cellar where the salmon and jars of fruit are stored, swing on a rope out the barn loft window, visit the Appaloosa in the corral and tease the neighbor's pig. The visit is also an opportunity for this child to ask Grandpa what her grandmother, Yayah, was like, and to explore the "secret room," with its old wooden trunk of ribbons, medals and photos of Grandpa in uniform. 
Nicola's two previous picture books are set in Canada and are about Native families and the boarding schools Native children in the US and Canada were sent to---not by choice---to learn how not to be Native. Pick up a copy of each one: Shi-shi-etko and Shin-shi's Canoe, and look for Grandpa's Girls! I think my dear friend, Jean, is gonna love it... Here's the cover:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Thanks, Minjie, for writing to tell me that Caddie Woodlawn is being published in China. Here's the cover:

Regular readers of American Indians in Children's Literature may recall my daughter's encounter with Caddie Woodlawn... I wonder if it, like Little House on the Prairie, will be placed on the National Curriculum in China?

(A personal note: I've been away from AICL for 3 weeks to provide round-the-clock care for my mom. She lives on our reservation and doesn't have internet. When I left Nambe on Monday morning, she was more herself than she's been in years. It was a difficult six weeks for all of us with many scary moments, but she's made it through an emergency surgery and an extensive hospital stay, and she's literally dancing down her hallway these days.)