Sunday, August 27, 2017

Recommended! C IS FOR CHICKASAW by Wiley Barnes and Aaron Long

C is for Chickasaw by Wiley Barnes (Chickasaw) and Aaron Long (Choctaw), published in 2014 by White Dog Press (Chickasaw Press), is definitely an alphabet book that every library in the country should get!

Here's the cover:

And here's the description:
C is for Chickasaw walks children through the letters of the alphabet, sharing elements of Chickasaw history, language, and culture along the way. Writing with multiple age groups in mind, Wiley Barnes has skillfully crafted rhyming verse that will capture and engage a younger child s imagination, while also including in-depth explanations of each object or concept that will resonate with older children. The colorful illustrations by Aaron Long reflect elements of Southeastern Native American art and serve to familiarize children with aspects of this distinctive artistic style. A supplementary section with questions and activities provides a springboard for further discussion and learning.

The figures on the cover are on the C page, but so are these (below) ... which just makes me want to jump up off my couch and do a fist pump! I love books that have illustrations that place Native people in the present day! This one is perfect because the three people are clearly in modern dress, giving readers a strong corrective to the all-too-frequent Native peoples in the past imagery that most books have in them.

The man on the left is holding a Bible. Though many Native peoples practice their own religions, some practice Christianity, or some combination of both. It is great to have that reflected in this illustration. And the book the woman is holding is a Chickasaw dictionary! Way cool, right? And the guy on the right is likely meant to be astronaut John Herrington. If you haven't gotten his book yet, do that right now:

As you turn the pages of C is for Chickasaw you (of course), encounter another letter of the alphabet. For each one, there's a word in English and the word in Chickasaw, too. Here's a close-up of the 'E' page:

Barnes and Long don't shy away from difficult topics either. The 'I' page is about Indian Territory. The illustration is of a family moving across a map that shows Georgia and Oklahoma. The text reads:
The Chickasaws were forced to settle in this new place
The journey was long with many challenges to face
At the bottom of each page is more information:
Indian Territory was land set aside by the United States for the forced re-settlement of Native Americans. It was created by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834. The Chickasaws, and other tribes, were forced to give up their land in the east and move to land in Indian Territory. Later it became part of the state of Oklahoma.
 A bonus for teachers is the "What did you learn" questions in the back, and a page of suggested activities.

C is for Chickasaw is a rare book, and I highly recommend it! It is also available as an app. More coolness! More fist pumps! Get a copy for your library or classroom shelf.