Saturday, May 10, 2008

Response from Ben Mikaelsen re TOUCHING SPIRIT BEAR

Over on the listserv for California's librarians, I posted my critique of Touching Spirit Bear. It sparked some discussion. The moderator said he thought it was getting personal in nature and that the conversation ought to be dropped. In the meantime, he said he'd ask the book's author, Ben Mikaelsen, about my concerns. Yesterday, the moderator posted a reply from Mikaelsen. The moderator said the discussion is closed, that the author should have the final word. I disagree but respect his decision and will not continue that conversation on that listserv. However, I do think further conversation is necessary, so will do that here.

A brief note for now: I understand the desire to feel sympathy for Mikaelsen, or to defend freedom of speech and his freedom to write what he wants to. My concern lies with the children who read (in this case) his books:
  • the Tlingit children who read his book and know he misrepresents their culture, and
  • the non-Tlingit children who may think they've learned something about Tlingit culture.
When I first read Mikaelsen's book a few years ago, I read somewhere (can't recall) that he had been on an airplane with a Tlingit elder who told him about the Tlingit people and their ways. At that time, I wrote to Mikaelsen (through his website) to verify that story, and someone replied (not Mikaelsen) saying that had not happened. That person did not offer any additional information.

Below is Mikaelsen's response. I invite your comments, and am working on a reply that I will post in the next few days.

From: Ben Mikaelsen []
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 9:09 AM
To: Pilling, George
Subject: Touching Spirit Bear

Hello George,

So nice to talk with you. Please feel free to post this on the blog if you feel it appropriate. Normally I don't feel confronting people serves much purpose. In this case, however, this lady is using her position to spread such misleading and erroneous information. Let me know what you think.

Touching Spirit Bear has not received much criticism from inside or outside the Native American or First Nation Community since publication. Most people who know me, know how thoroughly I researched the Tlingit culture. I had any number of Tlingits review the manuscript for me to make sure I had it "right." The few criticisms I have received have been from people who subscribe to the notion that unless you share a perspective, you cannot write to it. Using this logic, I could not have written my book Tree Girl because it holds a female perspective. I could not have written Petey or Stranded because they contained a disabled person's perspective. Sparrow Hawk Red, Red Midnight and Countdown would not have been valid because of the Hispanic and Maasai cultures they portrayed. The irony of Countdown is the biggest criticism I ever received on that book was from a black professor. She accused me of not being remotely accurate with my portrayal of Maasai culture. Ironically, that book has been used for years in Tanzania in their public girls' schools specifically because they like the accurate portrayal of the Maasai.

As for my accuracy in Touching Spirit Bear, I stand by what I've written and can defend every word. The Tlingit culture was peripheral to my story so there was no need to go into cultural aspects in great depth. Anybody familiar with any of the First Nation Cultures knows that their cultures are very complex and a person can spend a lifetime learning all the nuances. This was not possible or necessary for my purposes. This said, all of the healing methods portrayed, carrying the ancestor rocks, dancing the dances, carving the totems, turning the clothes inside out, soaking the ponds, breaking the sticks of anger, etc., all were shared with me by a First Nation spiritual leader. How somebody would categorically say these methods aren't used in Tlingit culture resorts to a troubling level of stereotyping.

People within any culture can be wonderfully diverse in beliefs and life styles. The reality of Circle Justice is that it has been used in different forms by First Nation people for hundreds of years. I first heard about Circle Justice from a prosecuting attorney in Minneapolis who had gone up to the Yukon with several other lawyers and judges to learn Circle Justice methods from First Nation elders there. As for banishment, that is simply one form of Circle Justice. There was a case of banishment a few years ago that did not work in Alaska because the boys thought they were movie stars with the press coming out to the islands to interview them. Nothing about that event or anything written on that event had any influence on my book. I did interview three First Nation men in Canada who had each experienced banishment for an extended period when they were younger. Two of these men were Tlingit. I did not dream up any of the methods that I portrayed in the book which makes criticism of my use of these methods even more puzzling.

I offer the following thoughts. Over the course of my career, all of my books have drawn censorship challenges for a variety of reasons. A Newberry author who I choose to leave anonymous, sat me down once and said, "Ben, knowing you and how thoroughly you research your books, don't you realize that most criticism has nothing to do with your books. Most criticism comes from fanatical zealots who are trying to forward their own agendas. They are like bugs flying to a fire. They look for someone else's limelight because they do nothing to deserve their own." I also remember that same author's next admonition. "Ben, it is simple to avoid criticism and challenges, just write bland books that don't do you or the world any good. But I never thought that was what you were about."

I will end by saying simply that I have conducted my writing career with three simple rules. Every word I write must be well researched, be for the good of a child and come from my heart. I can proudly defend every one of my novels and say that every word written in both Touching Spirit Bear and its new sequel, Ghost of Spirit Bear, has met these tests. I can only dream of a world where all criticism meets that same standard.

Warmest thoughts, Ben Mikaelsen

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Resources for Evaluating Tlingit Content in TOUCHING SPIRIT BEAR

Teachers and librarians looking for resources to evaluate the Tlingit content in Touching Spirit Bear can use the items listed below. These resources will be updated whenever I find additional material. Please keep in mind there is a lot of material available about Native peoples, much of it prepared by people without the insight or expertise to interpret it accurately. As such, a lot of that material is biased.

Visit these sites. They are primary sources. There aren't any "answers" to specific questions, but they do provide background information about the Tlingit people.

On page 19 of Mikaelsen's Touching Spirit Bear, he refers to the "at.oow." Go to these sites to learn about at.oow. Does his presentation of it match what you learn?

Here are some print resources:

Dauenhauer, Nora Marks, and Richard Dauenhauer, Haa Tuwunaagu Yis, for Healing our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990.)

deLaguna, Frederica, Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropologu, Vol. 7 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990).

Emmons, George Thornton, The Tlingit Indians (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991).

Kan, Sergei, Symbolic Immortality: The Tlingit Potlatch of the Nineteenth Century (Washington: Smithsonian Institutions Press, 1989).

Olson, Wallace M. The Tlingit: An Introduction to their Culture and History (Auke Bay, AK: Heritage Research, 1991).

Worl, Rosita, "History of Southeastern Alaska since 1867" in Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William c. Sturtevant, vol. 7, Northwest Coast, ed. Wayne Suttles (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1990).

And, here are some news articles that sound a lot like the premise for the story told in Touching Spirit Bear:

"The Banishing Judge," in Time Magazine, September 12, 1994.
"Indian Boys' Exile Turns Out to Be Hoax," in The New York Times, August 31, 1994. (pdf)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Powhatan statement on Pocahontas

On the website of the Powhatan Renape Nation is a statement I want to direct your attention to... It is called "The Pocahontas Myth." Here's the first two paragraphs:

In 1995, Roy Disney decided to release an animated movie about a Powhatan woman known as "Pocahontas". In answer to a complaint by the Powhatan Nation, he claims the film is "responsible, accurate, and respectful."

We of the Powhatan Nation disagree. The film distorts history beyond recognition. Our offers to assist Disney with cultural and historical accuracy were rejected. Our efforts urging him to reconsider his misguided mission were spurred."

If you teach about Pocahontas, or are selecting books about her for your library or classroom, you might want to read the entire statement. In fact, you might want to have your students read it!

Update: Sunday, May 10, 2010
The link to the statement in the original blog post has been replaced with a link to the Internet Archive because the Powhatan Renape Nation's website is down.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Congratulations to Eric Gansworth

Some weeks ago, I posted Eric Gansworth's poem "Loving That Land O'Lakes Girl." Eric is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation. The poem is in his book, A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function. Eric wrote to me earlier today with terrific news.

It is on the Spring 2008 National Book Critics Circle's "Good Reads" list. Congratulations, Eric!

To read details, go to the blog called "Critical Mass: The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors." Click here to get there. If you're developing a syllabus for a senior English lit class, consider adding Eric's book to your list.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A response to Richie's review of GHOST OF SPIRIT BEAR, and a critical look at TOUCHING SPIRIT BEAR

In the last few weeks, Richie Partington's review of Ben Mikaelsen's sequel to Touching Spirit Bear has been making the round on Internet listservs.

He opens his review with this excerpt from Black-Eyed Peas "Where is the Love?"

"Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we spreading animosity."

He goes on to praise Ghost of Spirit Bear, but again and again, I come back to the lyrics he opened the review with...

"Wrong information always shown by the media" --- That describes, perfectly, the way that Native peoples are portrayed in the movies, cartoons, advertisements, commercial products, and, of course, children's books.

"Wrong information" also perfectly describes Mikaelsen's first book, so it is puzzling that Partington uses that phrase to describe the book. Either Richie hasn't read criticism of Native imagery in Touching Spirit Bear, or, like so many others, he thinks a critique of Mikaelsen's misuse and misrepresentation of Tlingit people doesn't matter.

Touching Spirit Bear relies on and draws heavily from Mikaelsen's ideas about American Indians. His writing includes stereotypes, old and new. 'Old' meaning those older ones that put American Indians in the same class as animals; 'new' meaning the new-age use of Native spirituality.

Chapter 1 opens with Cole in a boat on his way to spend a year on an island in Alaska. This is "banishment" and the outcome, we are told later, of Circle Justice. With Cole are two men, both of them Tlingit. One is Garvey, who is "built like a bulldog with lazy eyes" (p. 3). The other is Edwin who "stared forward with a steely patience, like a wolf waiting" (p. 4)

Bulldog? Wolf? Is this a style Mikaelsen uses to describe all his characters? Here's how he describes Cole:

"He was an innocent-looking, baby-faced fifteen-year-old from Minneapolis..." (p.5)

And here's Peter, the kid Cole beat up:

"...the skinny red-haired boy," (p. 7)

Cole's parents:

"His mom acted like a scared Barbie doll, always looking good but never fighting back or standing up to anyone" (p. 9)

"His dad was a bullheaded drinker with a temper" (p. 9).

Bullheaded is certainly derived from an animal, but the term is common usage for someone who is determined to do what he wants, regardless of what others might think or want. Given that, I think it is different from the ways that Garvey and Edwin are described.

It is through Garvey that Cole learns about Circle Justice. Based on my reading about Circle Justice, Mikaelsen (through Garvey) does a reasonably accurate job of laying it out on pages 10-12. Where Mikaelsen goes astray is when Cole gets banished. Several meetings of the Circle have taken place, but Cole isn't making any progress. In frustration he tells the people at the meeting: "Send me someplace where I'm not in your face and can't hurt anyone. But why do I have to go to jail?" (p. 55).

Garvey replies "I'm a native Tlingit," he said. "I was raised in Southeast Alaska. It is possible I could make arrangements to have Cole banished to a remote island on the Inland Passage" (p. 55-56).

This banishment to an island comes straight out of the pages of the newspapers in 1994. "Indian Boys' Exile Turns Out to Be Hoax" ran in the New York Times. Reading it is much like reading the early part of Touching Spirit Bear. Except for the part of the article that reads:

"Now it turns out there is no such thing as banishment in Tlingit culture, according to tribal leaders and elders in Alaska."

Hmmm... That gives me pause. Let' see... the article came out in 1994. HarperCollins published Touching Spirit Bear in 2001. Apparently the book wasn't vetted. Maybe they don't do that with fiction? MAYBE THEY SHOULD!!! Course, I know of two books that experts critiqued prior to publication, but the writer/publisher chose to ignore the suggestions (those two are Ann Rinaldi's My Heart is on the Ground, and one of those Indian in the Cupboard books by Lynn Reid Banks).

Course, the book reading world loved Touching Spirit Bear! It's on all manner of "Best Books" lists, it has gotten many awards and glowing reviews. The Horn Book Guide is the only major review journal that panned it, giving it a 5 (out of 6) and calling it "Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality." I'm not sure what the redeeming quality is. "Marginal" and "seriously flawed" are dead on, though.

If you're an editor, get fiction manuscripts reviewed by experts, and when the experts point out problems, listen to the problems. Do not assume that the research the author has done is sufficient. It is likely that he/she is ill-informed.

Be mindful of the sources that you use when creating/writing/reviewing a story with Native characters or content. Today, more than ever, it is possible to find material written by Native people. You don't have to rely on biased and outdated material to do your research!

I know---there's a lot of people out there who are huge fans of Touching Spirit Bear. Seems there's a strong feeling that this book helps kids who are bullies. It may do that, but it also helps everyone stoke their incorrect stereotypical ideas about who Native people are. For that reason, I cannot and do not recommend it.


(1) Touching Spirit Bear has been written about twice before on this website. See Beverly Slapin's review and a piece I wrote about comments posted to her review "Reaction to Slapin's review."

(2) Also see resources that can be used to evaluate the Tlingit content in Touching Spirit Bear.

(3) Read Ben Mikaelsen's response here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


[This review may not be published elsewhere without written permission of its author, Beverly Slapin.]

Argueta, Jorge (Nahua/Pipil), Alfredito Flies Home, illustrated by Luis Garay. Groundwood, 2007, grades 4-up.

Alfredito and his grandma and parents are preparing to go home to El Salvador for Christmas—the first time they’ve returned since they fled as refugees and made their way to California on foot. This will be the first plane ride for them, and anticipation has little worms crawling in Alfredito’s stomach. The excitement of the plane ride; the joyful reunion with his sister and his aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and new puppies; the trip to the cemetery to visit with the grandparents; and the Christmas celebration—too soon it is over and Alfredito must fly home again, to California.

Some young readers will be familiar with what it means to be so desperate to have to go with “any Señor Coyote, or run through the mountains, or hide in the trunks of cars” in order to get to el norte, where there may be the possibility of employment, the possibility of sending money home to relatives. These young readers know, as does Alfredito, that not everyone, for many reasons, gets to go back home.

The cover painting shows Alfredito in his back yard pretending to be an airplane, while a real plane flies overhead. On the ground are the universal symbols of north and south—a football and a soccer ball—and both belong to him. Garay’s amazing acrylic-on-canvas paintings, on a lush and varied palette, perfectly complement this warm story of the loving reunion of a boy and his large extended family. Alfredito Flies Home brings to mind the wisdom, “¡Ningún ser humano es ilegal!” (To be human is never illegal).—Beverly Slapin

[Note: Alfredito Flies Home is available from Oyate.]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Presentation of American Indian Library Association Youth Lit Award

If you're attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference this summer (June 26-July) in Anaheim, get a ticket for the American Indian Library Association's Youth Literature Award presentation. It'll be on Monday, June 30, 5:30 to 7:00. Tickets are $25.

Accepting awards there will be:

Joseph Medicine Crow, for Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond

Sherman Alexie, for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridge, for Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom

To order tickets, send a check or money order made out to:

Lisa Mitten
32 Stewart Street
New Britain CT 06053

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Van Camp and Leitich Smith at Illinois Youth Literature Festival

Exciting news to share! Two of my favorite Native writers--Cynthia Leitich Smith and Richard Van Camp--will be in Urbana-Champaign October 4th, 2008 for our Youth Literature Festival.

The festival starts on October 2nd, with author visits to schools in the area, and culminates on Saturday, October 4th, with storytelling, puppetry, readings, lectures, book signings, and discussions.

Visit the website for more info!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Beverly Slapin's review of Joseph Bruchac's BUFFALO SONG

[Note: This review may not be published elsewhere without written permission of Beverly Slapin.]
Bruchac, Joseph, Buffalo Song, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Lee & Low, 2008, preschool-up

For millennia, the great buffalo herds provided material and spiritual sustenance for the Salish and other Indian peoples who inhabited much of North America. This sacred relationship was disrupted time and again, as the Salish were pushed west out of their hunting territories by the better-armed Plains nations, who themselves were pushed out by the eastern tribes, retreating from the expanding United States. As the government’s oppressive policies and overhunting by the encroaching whites combined with a series of epidemics and failing military and political alliances, the effects on the Salish and their beloved buffalo were particularly devastating.

By the 1870s, when Buffalo Song begins, the buffalo are once again scarce and in danger of disappearing. A young Nez Percé boy and his father rescue a buffalo calf whose entire herd has been slaughtered. They bring the little orphan to a Pend d’Oreille man named Sam Walking Coyote, who, with his family, are raising several other buffalo calves. Drawing in good part on oral interviews with Salish elders in the 1920s and ‘30s by the Montana Writers Project, Bruchac weaves together the stories of the boy and his father, the calf and his adopted family, and Walking Coyote and his family’s compassion and dedication that led to the establishment of the Pablo-Allard herd and the eventual restoration of the buffalo. In doing so, he fashions the events of a complex story into a satisfying and accessible picture book that will resonate on many levels with young children.

The preface to Buffalo Song is Bruchac’s recounting of a Salish story told in 1926 about the return of the buffalo. Weaving in and out of historical and mythological time, both the original tale and Bruchac’s reframing of it as a creation story mirror the great struggles for herd restoration from the nineteenth century up to and including the present. Together the two versions become, in fact, a re-creation story about the revitalization of the great herds and an honor song for what the Salish have done.

But few books are perfect. Unfortunately, Farnsworth’s oil-on-canvas paintings, on a palette of mostly greens and earth tones, do not match the literary level of Bruchac’s story. Except in several places, Farnsworth’s buffalo and horses exhibit a far greater range of color, motion and expression than do his Indians. Nevertheless, for all it is and all it says, Buffalo Song is highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
Buffalo Song is available from Oyate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something I wrote ten years ago...

Ten years ago today (April 15, 1998), a reflection I wrote was published on-line at the site maintained by Kay Vandergrift at Rutgers. It is among my earliest publications. Kay and I were (and are) active participants on discussions on the child_lit listserv. [Note: Then and now, heated discussions take place. There and other places, I strive to help people see the problems with stereotypical, biased, and erroneous (sometimes I call them LIES) about who indigenous people were and are. As you may know, my critiques draw a lot of fire from writers and their fans who defend their stories with "freedom of expression" and "freedom of speech" and "creative license." I'm not always diplomatic or kind in my responses to them. I care more about the child, Native or not, who is "learning" from their messed-up books.]

I'm pasting that reflection here today, and I've added some images. It captures my thoughts of ten years ago, and there are things in it that I want to respond to. For now, here's that essay.


Thoughts on Not Seeing Oneself

I grew up on a small Indian reservation in New Mexico. There are nineteen different Pueblos in New Mexico, and ours is called Nambe. As a first grader, I attended the Day School at the Pueblo, which is the same U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Day School my father attended when he was a child. I was so excited to be in school, so eager to learn how to read.

Twenty-five years later, I was teaching first grade for the public school district that eventually consolidated Nambe Day School and other small districts north of Santa Fe. My students would often bring books from home to share with classmates at story time. One day, Gabe brought in a book that struck a chord deep within me. It was Tip, a basal reader, but it was the Tip from which I had learned to read, twenty-five years before. I looked at dear Tip, the brown and white terrier who was always into one sort of mischief or another, taking Jack's ball, Janet's doll, or scattering the pile of leaves Jack had made. "No, No, Tip! Stop, Tip, Stop!" they'd say to him. I cherished the memories that surfaced as I turned the pages, reliving those moments.

Five years later, I moved from the Pueblo to central Illinois, to work on a doctorate in early childhood education. As I walked neighborhood streets, admiring the two and three story homes and the leafy trees, I felt an odd sense of joy, as though I were in a dream world. For the first time in my life, I could actually experience what it was like to play in a huge pile of orange, red, and brown leaves!

During my second semester, I took a course in multicultural children's literature and slowly became aware of why I felt I was in a dream world. It became clear that I was finally in the place Tip took me to. Those images I saw in Tip represented something I did not have as a child, but had found and embraced joyfully as an adult.

The feelings of joy became bittersweet as I realized that I treasure the two and three story houses and the huge piles of leaves because those images were connected to learning to read. I began to wonder - what if my basal reader had contained illustrations of brown Pueblo children playing in a sandy arroyo? What if the illustrations showed the gorgeous adobe homes that now merit million dollar price tags? Would my experience in central Illinois be the same?

Of course, this is an unanswerable question, but it does speak to the need we recognize in the 90's, for children to see themselves in their books--to see their life experiences validated in the books they read, be they basal readers or children's literature. This means that we need to give children books with characters that look like they do. We say it is necessary for their self esteem.

I don't know if my childhood self esteem was hurt by not seeing myself in my books, but I do know my heart soars today when I see my culture in the pages of Dianne Hoyt-Goldsmith's Pueblo Storyteller or Marcia Keegan's Pueblo Boy, or Michael Lacapa's Less Than Half, More Than Whole. I suspect this is true for all of us, with different books and in other media. Aren't we all thrilled when we see national magazines do a feature story on a small town near our own? Don't we all sit up straighter and grin?

Multicultural literature is suffering a sort of backlash as the 90's draw to a close. Some critics attack multiculturalism as an effort to balkanize America and view it as a threat to national unity. I view it as an affirmation of self, a validation of oneself. I count, you count, we all count! As we all assert our needs to be validated and then act on that validation, we will probably struggle as a country as we sort through this period. I do not want to sound like Pollyanna, but I do hope we can recognize, validate, and respect the cultures within our country and then reap the rewards of our efforts. We can only be the richer for it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

2008 Lacapa Spirit Prize Winner

Winner Named: Lacapa Spirit Prize for Southwest Children’s Literature

April 6, 2008

The Lacapa Spirit Prize is proud to announce its 2008 winner. Named for Michael Lacapa, children’s book illustrator and writer who died in 2005, the award honors the legacy of his artistic vision and talent for storytelling. This prize acknowledges great books for children that best embody the spirit of the peoples, culture and natural landscape of the Southwest. Books published in the two years prior to the award are eligible for consideration.

The 2008 Lacapa Spirit Prize for Narrative was awarded to “Jóhonaa’éí: Bringer of Dawn” by Veronica Tsinajinnie, illustrated by Ryan Singer, published by Salina Bookshelf Inc.

“Jóhonaa’éí: Bringer of Dawn” is a beautiful and peaceful story of the relationship the sun has to the earth and its inhabitants as he rises every morning and brings dawn. Veronica Tsinajinnie’s bilingual narrative is powerfully subtle in its presentation of Navajo culture. The story chronicles the journey of Jóhonaa’éí, the sun, as he passes over land, plants, animals, and humans, ushering in a new day. After Jóhonaa’éí wakes the field mice, the rabbits, and the sheep, he is “contented to know his job is done…” He finally arrives at a hogan door to wake “his children” who live inside. The sun then watches as the family offers “white corn to the morning spirits” and “give thanks to the bringer of dawn” before they begin their day also content to know that their job is done as well. Young readers will delight in Tsinajinnie’s progressive repetition, recognizing the daily path as one they, too, walk.

Michael Lacapa (Apache, Tewa and Hopi) worked with the Apache tribe in developing multicultural educational curricula for Native school-age children and often used storytelling as a teaching tool.

He was an exceptional storyteller and the talented illustrator of such books as “The Magic Hummingbird,” “Spider Spins a Story,” and “The Good Rainbow Road.” He is the author/illustrator of “The Flute Player,”Antelope Woman” and “Less Than Half, More Than Whole,” the latter co-authored with his wife Kathy.

The Lacapa Spirit Prizes will be awarded to recipients during the 10th Annual Northern Arizona Book Festival in Flagstaff, April 25-26, 2008. This prize is made possible through the generous support of the Northern Arizona Book Festival. The festival schedule may be found at

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Congrats to creative force behind WHEN THE SHADBUSH BLOOMS

When the Shadbush Blooms, written by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz, illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden has been selected for inclusion on the 2008 Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts!

It is among thirty books selected by the Children's Literature Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English.

I wrote about the book on March 24th of this year. Congratulations to all those involved in the creation of this lovely book!