BE BRAVE, BE BRAVE, BE BRAVE by F. Anthony Falcon


A True Story of Fatherhood and Native American Heritage
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 8
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A father recounts true events surrounding the difficult birth of his son, Lakota, an experience that challenges him to be triple brave.

Moments after being born, doctors rush Lakota away, requiring the narrator to leave his wife, who suffers complications from prolonged labor, and follow. When Lakota stabilizes, the father returns to her side. Just as the new parents feel “the worst [has] passed,” Hurricane Harvey forces their evacuation. The remaining story revolves around the legacy a father hopes to impart. What starts as a simple story centered on themes of bravery, resilience, and family and community bonds becomes mired in several ways. With its menulike selection of Native Nations, gatherings, artifacts, events, ceremonies, heroes, and metaphors, the tale reads more Pan-Indian than urban-Native. Additionally, generic phrases such as “Native American ancestry,” “gift of my culture,” and “folktales and legends” call attention to themselves with their outsider perspective and lack of specificity. However, the biggest issue results from a misguided attempt to equate deliberately systematic, historical, “forced” removals of Native Nations with a natural disaster evacuation, an event itself oddly described as “a trip.” A watercolor illustration depicting the Trail of Tears reinforces this inappropriate comparison. Other images include hackneyed motifs—horses, eagles, wind, and feathers. Rather than celebrating genuine heritage, this tale uses self-identification/family stories to claim Native American descent, presents Pan-Indian tropes as a singular Native identity, and attacks sovereignty by suggesting a DNA test legitimizes connection.

A journey for identity and belonging that borders on culturally harmful. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-57687-914-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: POW!
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2019


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