Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Saltypie. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Saltypie. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tim Tingle's SALTYPIE


Before you read Tim Tingle's Saltypie to your child or students in your classroom or library, spend some time studying what Tingle says at the end of the book, on the pages titled "How Much Can We Tell Them?"

There, you'll learn a little about Tim's childhood, and some about his father, grandmother, the Choctaw Nation, and, the rock-throwing incident in the book. Here's an excerpt:
I always knew we were Choctaws, but as a child I never understood that we were Indians. The movies and books about Indians showed Indians on horseback. My family drove cars and pickup trucks. Movie Indians lived in teepees. We lived in modern houses. Indians in books and on television hunted with bows and arrows. My father and my uncles hunted, too, with shotguns, but mostly they fished.
I have similar memories of my own. I watched the Indians on television and thought they weren't really Indians. I knew that we were Pueblo Indians, but we didn't look or live anything at all like the ones on TV, so I figured they weren't real. Tingle's note has a lot of very powerful information in it:
We know our history never included teepees or buffaloes. We were people of the woods and swamps of what is now called Mississippi. Early Choctaws had gardens and farms. For hundreds of years, they lived in wooden houses.
and
Long before explorers arrived from Europe, we had a government, a Choctaw national government. We selected local and national leaders. We recognized women as equal citizens. 
Did you do a double take as you read his words? I bet your students will! Indian people---prior to Europeans arrival on the continent that came to be known as North America---had governments?! Women were equal citizens?!! Those are powerful and important words for you (the adult) to carry with you every single time you pick up a book that has American Indians in it. We weren't primitive. We weren't savage. 

Tingle's note goes on to talk about things the Choctaw people experienced, such as the Trail of Tears, boarding school and racism. And, he talks about stereotypes in children's books, and he suggests that teachers can use Saltypie to dispel some of those stereotypes.

Turning now, to the book itself. In it are several stories.

The first double-paged spread of the book shows a young boy with bees around him. He's wearing a bright green button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. That boy is Tim, and the stories in the book are from his life.

First up is getting stung by a bee. His opening sentences capture the reader right away:
A bee sting on the bottom! Who could ever forget a bee sting on the bottom?
No doubt, those lines will elicit both laughs and groans from children--especially those who know the throbbing pain of a bee sting!  Obviously in distress, Tim runs to an arbor where his grandmother, who he calls Mawmaw, comforts him, but teaches him, too, when she asks "Didn't you hear the bees?" and says the bee sting was "some kind of saltypie." 

From there, Tingle takes his readers back to his grandmother's early years as a mother, and tells us about the word "saltypie."

The year was 1915, and Tim's grandparents (and Tim's dad, who was then two years old), moved to Texas. On that first morning his grandmother stepped outside her new home, and was struck in the face by a stone, thrown, Tingle writes, by a boy. Covering her face with her hands, blood seeped between her fingers. Not knowing it was blood, Tim's father (then a toddler), thought it was cherry pie filling. He reached up, got some on his fingertip, and tasted it. Course, it wasn't the sweet taste he expected, and he uttered "Saltypie!" and spit it out.  His mother hugged him. Though she was crying and shaken by the incident, she saw humor in her son's unmet expectation of something sweet, and laughed as she held him.

Moving forward in time to 1954, Tim is six years old, and he and his dad are visiting Mawmaw and Pawpaw, who still live in that house they moved to in 1915. Tim asks if he, like the adults gathered around the table, can have a cup of coffee. He watches as Mawmaw pours coffee, and sees that she puts her thumb into each cup before she fills it. He doesn't want her thumb in his cup, and covers it with his hand. Pawpaw and Tim's aunt are surprised by his action, and his aunt takes him outside for a moment, where he learns that Mawmaw is blind.

In a family gathering that night, Tim learns a lot about his grandmother's life. From his uncle, he learns about the stone that was thrown at her, and that people back then didn't like Indians. When he asks his uncle "What is saltypie?" his uncle says
"It's a way of dealing with trouble, son. Sometimes you don't know where the trouble comes from. You just kinda shrug it off, say saltypie. It helps you carry on."
The next story Tingle relates is set in 1970, when his grandmother is hospitalized for an eye transplant through which they hope she will regain her sight. His extended family is gathered round, waiting, telling stories to pass the time. By then, Tingle is a college student.

One of the stories Tim told is about his grandmother's years at Tuskahoma Academy, a boarding school for American Indian girls. The color palette on the page for that story is, appropriately, a somber blue. There, Mawmaw as a young child, stands, looking wistful, stuck at the school at Christmas time. That illustration is exceedingly powerful. Actually, it is only one of many illustrations in the book that are astounding in what they convey.

The illustrator for the book is Karen Clarkson. Like Tingle, she is enrolled with the Choctaw Nation. As I noted earlier, the very first page shows us young Tim, in agony, having been stung by a bee. Page after page, Clarkson's illustrations portray a modern Native family. From bright sunny pages bursting with life to the quiet ones that slow us (readers) down to absorb the stories told on that page, Clarkson's illustrations are terrific.  

I particularly like the one of the family, waiting for news about the operation. The waiting room is crowded with members of their family who catch up on news and tell stories. I've spent many hours with my own family---siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles---as we waited for the outcome of a family members surgery. That large gathering often takes hospital staff by surprise when they first start working amongst Native people.

From Tingle's note at the end of the book, to the stories he tells, and Clarkson's illustrations, this book is exceptional. As I said in my earlier post today, order your copy from Cinco Puntos Press. Here, I'll say ORDER SEVERAL COPIES!  And, learn more about Tim Tingle and Karen Clarkson. While you're at it, order Tingle's other books, too. Crossing Bok Chitto and When Turtle Grew Feathers are gems.

And yes, if you're wondering, Mawmaw does regain her sight:
It was so right that my father, who had given us this word [saltypie] fifty years ago in a moment of childhood misunderstanding, would now take it away in a moment of enlightenment. He lifted his eyes and spoke.
"No more saltypie," he said. "Mawmaw can see."

The closing paragraph in this very fine book is the one I'll end this post with, too:
We all leave footfalls, everywhere we go. We change the people we meet. If we learn to listen to the quiet and secret music, as my Mawmaw did, we will leave happy footfalls behind us in our going.
We can, if we choose, leave happy footfalls, and books like this one can help us do that.

New book! Tim Tingle's SALTYPIE

I just read Tim Tingle's new picture book, Saltypie...  First impression? Wow! When people ask me for a short list of recommended books, Saltypie is going to be on that list.

Tingle is Choctaw, and author of the award winning Crossing Bok Chitto. Order your copy of  Saltypie from Cinco Puntos Press.

More soon...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

American Indians in Children's Literature receives Wordcraft Circle Award

I am pleased to announce that American Indians in Children's Literature was named as a recipient of one of its 2012 Wordcraft Circle Honors and Awards.



I'm especially pleased that Wordcraft has selected Tim Tingle's Saltypie for its children's book award.

As I understand it, writers especially like being selected for the National Book Award, because selections for it are made by fellow writers who understand the art of writing.

Wordcraft Circle is composed of people who understand the work of Native people who seek to create greater understandings of who we are as Indigenous peoples. Being recognized by them is a special honor.

Here is info from the WordCraft page:

Our Vision: To ensure the voices of Native American and Indigenous writers and storytellers - past, present, and future - are heard throughout the world!


Our Mission: To support the work and words of Native and Indigenous people in order to strengthen the impact of their voices in asserting community sovereignty, individual self-determination, traditional and cultural values, and creative expression.

Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers was founded in 1992 by Lee Francis III after attending the first Returning the Gift gathering of Native writers and storytellers in Norman, Oklahoma. Dr. Francis wanted to honor the memory of a former student who had passed away during the gathering by creating an organization that would continue to promote the work of Native American writers and storytellers. Throughout the 1990's, Dr. Francis helped promote the work of numerous Native American and Indigenous writers, both emerging and professional, throughout North and South America. Writers such as Joseph Bruchac, Dianne Glancy, MariJo Moore, Chris Eyre, and E.K. Caldwell were all a part of the organization during it's first decade. For over ten years, Wordcraft connected hundreds of Native writers in gatherings throughout the U.S. In 2003, Dr. Francis passed away after a short struggle with cancer and the organization was inherited by Dr. Kimberly Roppolo and Lee Francis IV.

Update, May 2, 2016:
In addition to AICL and Saltypie, I want to note awards given to:

  • Arigon Starr, Lee Frances III Memorial Award for Wordcrafter of the Year
  • Sara Hoklotubbe, Mystery, for The American Cafe 


Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 Opening Minds Conference - Chicago Metro AEYC


A hearty welcome to people who attended Choosing and Using Picture Books about Native Americans: What's New, What's Good, and What's Best Practice at Opening Minds, the 1011 Chicago Metro AEYC conference in January, 2011. (For those who don't know, the conference is for educators in early childhood).

Jean Mendoza and I are glad that you attended our session, and are happy to provide you with this list of books we discussed. Click on the titles for more information about each one. Some may be available from Oyate. Where possible, I provide a link to the webpage for the publisher. As is always the case with a conference presentation, time is limited, and presenters are never able to say something about every book they want to...  So, this is an incomplete list.

Board and Concept Books

Traditional Stories
  • Pia Toya: A Goshute Indian Legend, by Children of Ibapah Elementary School (order used copy from your preferred used bookseller).
  • Muskrat Will Be Swimming, by Cheryl Savageau, available from Tilbury House
  • The Story of the Milk Way: A Cherokee Tale, by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross (order a used copy from your preferred used bookseller).

Contemporary Stories

Historical Settings

Nonfiction
Internet Resources

Chicago Area Resources

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Native authored-books on the 2011 Notable Children's Books list

Quoting from the website of the Association for Library Service to Children:
Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways.
On the list this year are...


Tim Tingle's extraordinary Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light. I wrote about it last year. Saltypie is one of my favorite books.

Congratulations, Tim!










Matt Dembicki's Trickster: Native American Tales, a collection of 21 trickster stories in graphic novel format is also on the list. (Note 1/15/2011: Dembicki is not, to my knowledge, Native. All the authors who have stories in the book are Native.) I like the book very much, with one quibble...  The designer didn't provide information about each story's origin with the story. It's in the book----in the back! It would have done a lot more teaching if that info was included with the opening panel of each story.





S. D. Nelson's Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story.  I've got it on order.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Audio: Tim Tingle reading from SALTYPIE

A few minutes ago, I was reading Cynsations and found out that Teaching Books has an audio of Tim Tingle talking about, and then reading from his newest book, Saltypie. Click on over and listen to it. And get his book, too!

The photo here is also from Cynsations



Thursday, August 13, 2020

Historical Fiction by Native Writers

On August 3, 2020, Debbie received an email from a teacher looking for historical fiction. She wrote that teachers in her school use Island of the Blue Dolphins and she doesn't want to use it (or others like it) because she's learning about flaws in popular and classic and award-winning books. What, she wonders, would we recommend? 

She's been looking at AICL and wonders if we have a list of historical fiction by Native writers (affiliations listed for each writer are from bios in their book or on their professional website; if we've listed yours incorrectly, please let us know and we will change it). 

This post today is meant to work towards providing teachers with a list of historical fiction that we recommend. We'll add to it over time. We are organizing it in a way that we hope is helpful: chronologically. As you'll see when you read on, we're listing books by decade but also have a final category for books that are volumes that span a wide range of years. 

But what would our end-year be?! 

We enjoyed talking about it because the definitions vary. A book set in the 1970s doesn't feel like historical fiction to Debbie (those were her teen years). But how does that book feel to a teen reader, today? Read Write Think (a project from the National Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association) defines historical fiction as 30 years in the past. In the third edition of Children's Literature in Action: A Librarian's Guide, Sylvia M. Vardell writes that historical fiction "is set at least one generation in the past." But, she also says, "that bar is movable as time keeps moving on" (page 191). With that in mind, we're including books set in the 1970s and we welcome your thoughts! And book suggestions, too.  



1830s

How I Became A Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle (Oklahoma Choctaw). Published in 2013 by Roadrunner Press. 

Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story by Andrea L. Rogers (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation). Published in 2020 by Capstone Press.

1840s

The Birchbark House (and subsequent books in the series) by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe). Published in 1999 by Hyperion Books for Children.

1860s

Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner by Tim Tingle (Choctaw). Published in 2013 by 7th Generation. 

 

1920s

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis (Anishinaabe, Nipissing First Nation) and Kathy Kacer. Published in 2016 by Second Story Press.


1940s

At the Mountain's Base by Traci Sorell (enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation). Illustrations by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva, Cahuilla, Chumash, Spanish & Scottish). Published in 2019 by Kokila Press.


1950s

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua, enrolled in Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) with Traci Sorell (enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation). Published in 2019 by Lee & Low Books/Tu Books. 

My Name Is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling (Salish). Published in 1997 by Douglas McIntyre. 


1960s

House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle (Choctaw). Published in 2014 by Cinco Puntos Press.


1970s

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth, Sˑha-weñ na-saeˀ, (enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, Eel Clan). Published in 2013 by Arthur A. Levine.


Books that Span a Wide Range of Years

Saltypie by Tim Tingle (Choctaw). Published in 2010 by Cinco Puntos Press.

Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva, Cahuilla, Chumash, Spanish & Scottish), Kristina Bad Hand (Sicangu Lakota & Cherokee), Roy Boney (Cherokee), Johnnie Diacon (enrolled member Mvskoke Nation), Lee Francis IV (Laguna Pueblo), Geary Hobson (Cherokee-Quapaw/Chickasaw), Jonathan Nelson (Diné), Renee Nejo (Mesa Grand Band of Mission Indians), Michael Sheyahshe (Caddo), Arigon Starr (Kickapoo), Theo Tso (Las Vegas Paiute).  Published in 2016 by Native Realities.

This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzi-Damm (Chippewas of Nawash First Nation at Neyaashiinigmiing), Sonny Assu (not specified), Tara Audibert (Maliseet), Kyle Charles (member of Whitefish Lake First Nation), GMB Chomichuk (not specified), Natasha Donovan (member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia), Scott A. Ford (not specified), Alicia Elliott (Tuscarora, Six Nations of the Grand River), Scott B. Henderson (not specified), Ryan Howe (not specified), Andrew Lodwick (not specified),  Brandon Mitchell (Mi'kmaq), Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley (Inuit-Cree), Sean Qitualik-Tinsley (not specified), David A. Robertson (member of Norway House Cree Nation), Niigaawewidam James Sinclair (Anishinaabe, St. Peter's/Little Peguis), Jen Storm (Ojibway, Couchiching First Nation), Richard Van Camp (member of Tlicho Nation), Katherena Vermette (Métis), Chelsea Vowel (Métis), Donovan Yaciuk (not specified). Published in 2019 by Highwater Press. 


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Tim Tingle, on HOUSE OF PURPLE CEDAR winning American Indian Library Association's 2016 Youth Literature Award in Young Adult Category

Yesterday (Feb 6 2016), the American Indian Library Association (AILA) announced the winners of its 2016 Youth Literature Awards. Recipients of the awards will be formally recognized at the American Library Association's Annual Conference this summer, in Orlando, Florida.

The winner in the Young Adult category is House of Purple Cedar, by Choctaw writer, Tim Tingle. I asked him to tell me about the book and his thoughts upon hearing the news. Here, I share his generous and moving response.


~~~~~


From 1998 to 2013 I worked almost every day on “House of Purple Cedar.” That’s what happens when you’re a 50 year-old man writing in the voice of a 12 year-old girl. Don’t ask me why, I might say something like, “She was the ghost talking to me.” And it might be true. A life changes over 15 years, and many eye-opening events worked their way into the narrative; theft from an old man with dementia, which I witnessed. A major theme throughout the book, alcohol and the accompanying spousal abuse, I saw first-hand growing up.   
In truth, I know and love every character in HOPC. Roberta Jean, the teenage girl with four bratty brothers, is my real-life sister Bobby Jean. Samuel, the quiet son of the preacher, is my brother Danny, who flipped his kayak and drowned a few years before I began the book. One-legged Maggie was a combo of my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Beeson, who limped on a wooden leg; and his stubborn and hilarious counterpart, my reading teacher Mrs. Deemer. And as all Choctaws know, the Bobb brothers honor Bertram Bobb, our esteemed Choctaw chaplain.
As I reflect on where I was and why I included certain scenes and characters, I realize that so many of my friends are gone. Jay MacAlvain, a retired prof from Seminole State College, nurtured and coached me through my M.A. thesis, and a late-night story of his inspired the book. He told of a drunken sheriff in small town Oklahoma who, after an argument with his wife, boarded a train and shot dead the first Indian he saw. The dead Indian was Jay’s uncle, whom he never met. The sheriff knew no one would report him or complain. Until 1929, it was against the law in Oklahoma for an Indian to bear witness against a white man.
Reports of the suspected arson of New Hope Academy on New Year’s Eve, 1896, gave this story a home: Skullyville, once a bustling city in eastern Oklahoma. Skullyville became my second home. I walked the nearby railroad tracks for miles, sat amongst the gravestones, sang Choctaw songs—and listened.
My gone-before Choctaw friend, storyteller/writer Greg Rodgers, and I spent many days at Robber’s Cave, near Wilburton, OK, as I wrote and he revised at a furious pace. We walked over so many graveyards I felt more at ease among their residents than in town. I grew to trust my flying fingers.
I so longed that the stories I carried from these excursions would finally be told. I wanted the little girls of New Hope Academy to be honored, a century later. I wanted every woman who suffered from abuse to know they did not bring it upon themselves.
And I wanted non-Indian readers to experience the world from the viewpoint of the persecuted; the bruises on Amafo’s cheek, the tender touch of Pokoni….oh how I love those elders. The power and strength to forgive.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the sometimes heartless, I will walk the road of goodness, wave the light of forgiveness, and smile warm jokes along the way, as so many of my Choctaw kinfolks did. 

~~~~~


This is the sixth set of books the American Indian Library Association has selected for its awards. The committee members change each time. In nearly every year, Tim's books are amongst the winners. Crossing Bok Chitto won in the picture book category in 2008. Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light was selected as an Honor Book in 2012. In 2014 his How I Became a Ghost won the Middle Grade Award, and his Danny Blackgoat: Navajo Prisoner won the Middle Grade Honor.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Why you should teach two books by Native writers from different Native Nations at the same time

Earlier today on Facebook, I shared a post I wrote last year about not letting a single book (Alexie's Diary) be the only book about American Indians that you read or recommend. In that post, I talked about young adults books. In an ensuing conversation, Joe Sutliff Sanders, an Associate Professor at Kansas State University, told me that when he taught Alexie's book and Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here at the same time,

...the conversation had to turn to explicating the differences between the books, and we had to stop saying "Indian" and start saying "Spokane" and "Onondaga." In fact, we had to start talking about poverty with a lot more nuance, too. 

Here on AICL, I talk about the importance of naming a specific nation (and of course, accurately portraying that nation), but the classroom experience Dr. Sanders shared is so powerful that I asked him if I could share it. Obviously, he said yes. Thanks, Joe!

Let's bring that idea to the picture book category. We could identify similar pairings that would push students to stop saying Indian.

In the picture book category, you could assign/read Cynthia Leitich Smith's Jingle Dancer along with Carol Lindstrom's Girls Dance Boys Fiddle. Instead of saying "Indian" you and students will be saying Creek and Metis. Both feature girls and are set in the present day.



Or, you could use picture books set in the past, by assigning Tim Tingle's Saltypie and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve's The Christmas Coat. Instead of saying "Indian" you'd say Choctaw and Lakota.



There are lots of possibilities! I gotta head out for now. I may come back with more pairings. I like this idea a lot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tim Tingle's keynote at 2014 American Indian Youth Literature Awards

On Sunday, the American Indian Library Association (AILA) presented its 2014 Youth Literature Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada at the annual meeting of the American Library Association. Choctaw author Tim Tingle was the keynote speaker at the event.

Tingle's How I Became A Ghost won the middle school award. I could not be in Las Vegas but have been following happenings there via social media. On Monday,  American Libraries Magazine posted an article about the AILA event. In it, Michele LeSure included an overview of Tingle's remarks:

Tingle spoke about the trials his family endured being discriminated against for being Choctaw tribal members, and the importance of documenting these types of stories. He said the recent decision to revoke trademark rights to the Washington Redskins team name and logo gives Native Americans a big opportunity to raise these types of issues in public discourse, so “we will never be ghosts.”

Tingle's Saltypie recounts some of that discrimination his family experienced. His note to teachers in that book is exceptional. In his books, Tingle brings forth difficult moments in history in which Native peoples were discriminated against. How I Became a Ghost is about the Trail of Tears, and House of Purple Cedar opens with the burning of a Native boarding school in which Choctaw girls were burned to death. Though we would correctly assume that the characters in his stories would be bitter, they aren't. They recognize the humanity in all people, including those who hurt them. Tingle is a master at giving us history in a way that lets us examine brutality and compassion.

Tingle's keynote remarks indicate his courage in taking up current examples of that discrimination. Specifically, he addressed the Washington football team's racist name. He is absolutely right in saying that the public discourse on mascots creates an opportunity for us to examine all misrepresentations of Native people. One of those misrepresentations is the thought that we no longer exist. Here's a couple of tweets that captured more of Tingle's remarks:




Get his books for your classroom, school, or home library. And get them from small bookstores, too! When you booktalk or introduce them, you can say "Tim Tingle is Choctaw." That two letter word (is) will go a long long way at helping your students and patrons correct the misinformation they may carry about us as being extinct.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Some thoughts on YA lit and American Indians

Eds note, April 3, 2015: This post inspired one that focuses on picture books. I'm pasting it at the end of this one. 
_____________________________________

February 6, 2014

Earlier today I spoke with Ashley Strickland, a reporter from CNN, about young adult literature and American Indians. For that conversation, I pored over notes, books, articles, essays... trying to form some coherent thoughts on young adult literature and American Indians. Today's blog post is what I developed as I prepared for talking with her.

A few days ago, CBC News (CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) ran a story titled "What It Takes for Aboriginal People to Make the News." The reporter, Duncan McCue, is Anishinaabe of the Chippewas of Georgina Island in Ontario, Canada. He opened his article with this:
An elder once told me the only way an Indian would make it on the news is if he or she were one of the 4Ds: drumming, dancing, drunk or dead.
Skeptical of that thought, McCue did an analysis of news stories and found the elder's comment to be accurate. As I read his article, I thought about children's and young adult literature and the many books I've reviewed here on AICL that have those very things.

Two examples? Fichera's Hooked (Harlequin Teen, 2013) and Cooper's Ghost Hawk (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013). Both have all of the 4Ds, but they also have another tired cliche: in their stories, White characters come to the rescue, saving the lives of key Native characters.  

At first glance, those four Ds aren't problematic. Native people drum. We dance. We have members of our nations that struggle with alcohol, and of course, we're human beings. We die, too. Those four D's are part of our lives, but too many authors sprinkle those Ds in their stories, decorating the story they tell, as if such decoration makes it a story about Native people. Those books get published because, for the most part, publishers want books that will sell. While those Ds are easily sold and easily consumed, stories like that aren't good for what-you-know about Indigenous people.

There are, of course, some excellent books out there! If you find one of the four Ds in these stories, it will have the context and depth necessary for that D to be a meaningful part of the story. Here's seven of my favorite books.


Eric Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here (Scholastic, 2013) is amongst YALSA's 2014 list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. Set in 1975, the main character is a 7th grader named Lewis. He lives on the Tuscarora Reservation and is making his way through school. Author Cynthia Leitich Smith (I discuss her next) read and aptly described Gansworth's novel as "A heart-healing, mocs-on-the-ground story of music, family and friendship."



Upon the publication of her Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), Leitich Smith was selected as Writer of the Year, in the children's category, by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Cassidy Rain, the protagonist is of mixed ancestry but is a citizen of the Creek Nation. As you can see from the cover, she's into photography. But she's also into Star Trek! Having raised a daughter interested in photography and Star Trek (and Star Wars), this is precisely the kind of book I'd hand to her.



Debby Edwardson is not Native, but she's been married to an Inupiaq man for a long time and knows what she's doing. Her book, My Name Is Not Easy (Marshall Cavendish, 2011) was a nominee for the prestigious National Book Award. Primarily set in the 1960s boarding schools, it is the story of Luke, an Inupiaq teen in high school. As Edwardson notes in the book, Luke is based on her husband and his experiences.



Two of the novels I'm recommending are ones written for adults but that could easily be eligible for ALA's Alex Award ("books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18").





In Louise Erdrich's The Round House (Harper Perennial, 2013), the protagonist in Erdrich's novel is Joe, an Ojibwe man who tells us a painful account. When he was 13, his mother was raped. At the core of Erdrich's story are the foundations of who we are as Indigenous peoples who persevere in the face of waves of adversity.



Tim Tingle's House of Purple Cedar (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014) opens with Rose, a Choctaw girl in Oklahoma in the late 1800s, remembering when a boarding school for girls was set afire, killing Choctaw girls inside. The evil that lit that fire is personified in the sheriff, and the spirit and confidence in justice propels Rose and her community forward.

Two of the books are by writers who are First Nations. The success of their books extends into other forms of media.



Richard Van Camp's The Lesser Blessed (Douglas & McIntyre, 1996) has been turned into a feature film. The story is about Larry, a 16-year old Dogrib who, with the help of Jed--his mother's boyfriend--and the stories he shares with Larry, makes it through some very dark spaces. There is breathtaking brutality, and brilliance, too, in Van Camp's stories.




Drew Hayden Taylor's The Night Wanderer (Annick Press, 2007) is a contemporary story with a twist. There is a vampire in it. How that character became a vampire in the first place is gripping, but so is his plan to get home to his reserve in Canada. Taylor's protagonist is a 16 year old girl. Taylor's writing had me reluctant to glance out my windows at night! The Night Wanderer is now available as a graphic novel.

Now--I imagine some of you are wondering why I don't have The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in my list of favorites. The main reason is that you already know about it but remember:

Alexie's book is only one of many. 
It can't be the single story 
you know about Indigenous people. 

Single stories, as Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, are dangerous.




Alexie gave us a story. One story that he's said is based on his own childhood. His is a particular kind of story, too, that won't appeal to every reader. We need books about young adults who are from other reservations and nations, too. There are over 500 federally recognized tribal nations! Within them, some of us are living on the reservation, and some of us are in urban areas and cities. We dance, and we drum, and some of us sing our traditional songs, but some of us like rock and roll, too. It doesn't make us any less Native. We are who we are.

Don't let Alexie's book be the only one you read and recommend.

________________________________________
Eds note: The following content is from a stand-alone post on April 3, 2015.

Why you should teach two books by Native writers from different Native Nations at the same time

Earlier today on Facebook, I shared a post I wrote last year about not letting a single book (Alexie's Diary) be the only book about American Indians that you read or recommend. In that post, I talked about young adults books. In an ensuing conversation, Joe Sutliff Sanders, an Associate Professor at Kansas State University, told me that when he taught Alexie's book and Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here at the same time,

...the conversation had to turn to explicating the differences between the books, and we had to stop saying "Indian" and start saying "Spokane" and "Onondaga." In fact, we had to start talking about poverty with a lot more nuance, too. 

Here on AICL, I talk about the importance of naming a specific nation (and of course, accurately portraying that nation), but the classroom experience Dr. Sanders shared is so powerful that I asked him if I could share it. Obviously, he said yes. Thanks, Joe!

Let's bring that idea to the picture book category. We could identify similar pairings that would push students to stop saying Indian.

In the picture book category, you could assign/read Cynthia Leitich Smith's Jingle Dancer along with Carol Lindstrom's Girls Dance Boys FiddleInstead of saying "Indian" you and students will be saying Creek and Metis. Both feature girls and are set in the present day.



Or, you could use picture books set in the past, by assigning Tim Tingle's Saltypie and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve's The Christmas CoatInstead of saying "Indian" you'd say Choctaw and Lakota.



There are lots of possibilities! I gotta head out for now. I may come back with more pairings. I like this idea a lot.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013: Best Books for Elementary School

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If I was starting a library in an elementary school or if I was ordering books for an elementary school library, these are ten books I'd buy right away, along with the ten listed in 2010: Top Ten Books Recommended for Elementary School.

With these books, students will read the works of Native and non-Native writers who know what they're talking about. The books include picture and chapter books, traditional stories, contemporary and historical fiction, and, biography and autobiography, too.
  • Edwardson, Debby Dahl. Whale Snow.
  • Erdrich, Louise. Chickadee.
  • Francis, Lee DeCora. Kunu's Basket: A Story from Indian Island
  • Galvan, Glenda. Chikasha Stories, Volume One: Shared Spirit
  • Jordan-Fenton, Christy and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Fatty Legs: A True Story
  • Nelson, S.D. Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way
  • Nelson, S.D. Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story
  • Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood
  • Tingle, Tim. Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
  • Uluadluak, Donald. Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story

For brief annotations, see my 2013 article in School Library Journal, "Resources and Kid Lit about American Indians." (Note: this is a list compiled in 2013, not a list of books published in 2013.)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

SLJ's 2013 Focus On "Resources and Kid Lit about American Indians"

School Library Journal has a "Focus On" series in its Collection Development category. Each "Focus On" is devoted to a single topic. This month, I'm the author of the Focus On column. For it, I provided an annotated list of over 30 children's and young adult books and apps. Most are by Native authors of the U.S. or Canada. The column this month is Resources and Kid Lit about American Indians.





I love the book cover layouts SLJ's staff put together to go with the column. I love them so much, that I am reproducing them here. I would love to see these books on display in every library in the country! As I look at each cover, I remember vividly where I was when I read each one. That's because these books are outstanding. 

I'll take a moment, too, to thank members of the American Indian Library Association for their help in locating apps. I couldn't include all of them, but plan to write about those that I list below, and some that I learned about too late to include for the article. 

I'll also take a moment to point you to my previous Focus On column for SLJ. Published in 2008, it was the prompt for me to come up with my "Top Ten" lists (see top right column of AICL for links to those Top Ten lists). I'll be adding the books in the 2013 Focus On column to the Top Ten lists, too. 



Thanks, SLJ, for providing me with an opportunity to put these terrific books in front of a wide audience!

Please take time to go directly to the article and read the annotations. They're brief, but I've written--or will write about--each one of them on AICL. Here's the list. For previous/future posts on them, look for them in the 'label's section (far right column towards the bottom) or simply type the book title (in quotation marks) in the search bar (top left corner right).

BOARD BOOKS
Baby's First Laugh, by Beverly Blacksheep
Boozhoo, Come Play with Me, by Deanna Himango
Cradle Me, by Debby Slier
Little You, by Richard Van Camp
Good Morning World, by Paul Windsor

ELEMENTARY
Whale Snow, by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Chickadee, by Louise Erdrich
Kunu's Basket: A Story from Indian Island, by Lee DeCora Francis
Chikasha Stories, Volume One: Shared Spirit, by Glenda Galvan
Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way, by S. D. Nelson
Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story, by S. D. Nelson
The Christmas Coat: Memories of my Sioux Childhood, by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness Into Light, by Tim Tingle
Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story, by Donald Uluadluak

MIDDLE SCHOOL
Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection, edited by Matt Dembicki
My Name is Not Easy, by Debby Dahl Edwardson
If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth
Triple Threat, by Jacqueline Guest
Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Walking on Earth, Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School, edited by Timothy P. McLaughlin
Native Writers: Voices of Power, by Kim Sigafus and Lyle Ernst
Super Indian: Volume One, by Arigon Starr
How I Became a Ghost, by Tim Tingle

HIGH SCHOOL
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson
Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac
The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
House of Purple Cedar, by Tim Tingle
Code Talker Stories, by Laura Tohe
The Moon of Letting Go: And Other Stories, by Richard Van Camp
Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson

APPS
Anompa: Chickasaw Language Basic, Chickasaw Nation
Bramble Berry Tales--The Story of Kalkalilh: Book One, Rival Schools Media Design
Navajo Toddler, Isreal Shortman
Ojibway, Ogoki Learning Systems

WEBSITES
Chickasaw Kids, Chickasaw Nation
Infinity of Nations Culture Quest, National Museum of the American Indian


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Books by Native Authors at Bus Boys and Poets

I was in Washington D.C. last week. When I'm there, I try to get over to Busboys and Poets and check out the books they have in the bookstore. Deborah Menkart of Teaching for Change was with me and snapped this photo of me holding up Richard Van Camp's Little You. His words, partnered with Julie Flett's art, make for a spectacular board book.



As I browsed the Children's book section, I saw several books I adore on their shelves. I took photos of them.

Tim Tingle's Crossing Bok Chitto and Saltypie are in the picture books section. So is Cynthia Leitich Smith's Jingle Dancer but my photo of it was far too blurry to use here. On the shelves with books for older children, I spotted Louise Erdrich's The Game of Silence and Chickadee, and Smith's Indian Shoes. And on the shelf where the board books are, is Richard Van Camp's Little You. Here's my cropped snapshots of them:



I gotta say---I was tickled as can be to see all these books! In one place! And there were others, too. Many others. They were featuring Diverse Energies, which includes a story by Cherokee author, Daniel H. Wilson:



If you're in Washington D.C., put a trip to Busboys and Poets on your list of places to go. While there, buy some books and have something to eat. If you can't get there, visit the website and... buy some books that way.

Very soon, they'll have Eric Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here, too.



Course, I focused on books by Native authors, but they've got a wide range of books by a wide range of authors whose books fit the theme of social justice. Stop by! Check out their website! Support independent bookstores! And always--support social justice.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2010: Best Books Recommended for Elementary School

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Editor's Note: January 18, 2014 - The title of this post has been edited to reflect its year of publication. See also 2013: Top Ten Books Recommended for Elementary School

If I was starting a library in an elementary school, these are the first ten books I'd buy. In reading these books, students would be reading stories Native writers create about Native people and places. The books I list here include fiction, historical fiction, traditional story, and poetry.
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shi-shi-etko
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shin-chi's Canoe
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Beaver Steals Fire: A Salish Coyote Story
  • Harjo, Joy. The Good Luck Cat
  • Messinger, Carla. When the Shadbush Blooms
  • Ortiz, Simon J. The Good Rainbow Road/Rawa 'kashtyaa'tsi hiyaani: A Native American Tale
  • Sockabasin, Allen J. Thanks to the Animals
  • Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer
  • Tingle, Tim. Crossing Bok Chitto (If you can, also get When Turtle Grew Feathers and Saltypie)
  • Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. SkySisters
For annotations, see my article Native Voices in School Library Journal.

See also:
Top Ten Books Recommended for Middle School
Top Ten Books Recommended for High School


Download a pdf titled "Selecting Children's and Young Adult Literature about American Indians that includes an introduction and all three "Top Ten" lists.