- Is the book by a Native author or illustrator?
- Does the book, in some way, include something to tell readers that we are sovereign nations?
- Is the book tribally specific, and is the tribally specific information accurate?
- Is it set in the present day? If it is historical in structure, does it use present tense verbs that tell readers the Native peoples being depicted are part of today's society?
John Herrington's Mission to Space has all of that... and more! Herrington is an astronaut. He was on space shuttle Endeavor, in 2002. Mission to Space begins with his childhood, playing with rockets, and ends with Endeavor's safe return to Earth.
Here's the cover:
That is Herrington on the cover. Here's a page from inside that tells readers he is Chickasaw.
While he and the crew were waiting for Endeavor to blast off, the governor and lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation presented a blanket to NASA.
Those are two of the pages specific to Herrington being Chickasaw, but there's photos of him, training to be an astronaut, too. There's one of him, for example in a swimming pool, clad in his gear. And there's one that is way cool, of his eagle feather and flute, floating inside the International Space Station:
I absolutely love this book. There is nothing... NOTHING like it.
Native writer? Yes.
Tribally specific? Yes.
Present day? Yes.
The final two pages are about the Chickasaw language. In four columns that span two pages, there are over 20 words in English, followed by the word in Chickasaw, its pronunciation, and its literal description. And, of course, there's a countdown... in English and in Chickasaw.
Published in 2016 by the Chickasaw Nation's White Dog Press, they created a terrific video about the book. You can order it at their website. It is $14 for paperback; $16 for hardcover.
I highly recommend it! Hands down, it is the best book I've seen all year long.