WHEN GOD MADE THE DAKOTAS

In an attempt to mimic a Native-American folktale, the author creates a story to explain the origin of the Dakota lands. Wakantanka, the Great Spirit, comes with his medicine bag and empties it of all he has left to create the land for the Dakotas. Woksape, the Medicine Man, has asked for great stone mountains, great boreal forests or a land of many lakes, but Wakantanka has given those away to other lands. When Woksape trustingly says he should just give whatever he has left, Wakantanka makes the most of it. It will be a land of many seasons, but will have “the most colorful sunset of anywhere on the earth.” While there will not be lakes, there will be tall prairie grasses that move like the sea. And so on. The text minimizes the rich oral language present in authentic tales from the Native-American culture, a clear imitation that will mislead young readers. Morin’s rich and expressive acrylic paintings on canvas deserve a more worthy text. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8028-5275-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006

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HOW CHIPMUNK GOT HIS STRIPES

A TALE OF BRAGGING AND TEASING

Noted storyteller Bruchac (Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, p. 1498, etc.) teams up with his son, James (Native American Games and Stories, not reviewed) to present a pourquoi tale from the East Coast Native American tradition. Bear is undeniably big; he is also a braggart, given to walking through the forest and proclaiming his superiority to all within earshot: “I can do anything! Yes, I can!” When he hears this, little Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to tell the sun not to rise the next day. This Bear does, and when the sun does in fact rise despite his injunction not to, Brown Squirrel unwisely gloats: “Bear is foolish, the sun came up. Bear is silly, the sun came up.” Thanks to trickery, Brown Squirrel escapes with his life, but not before Bear claws the stripes into his back that cause him to change his name to Chipmunk. The Bruchacs translate the orality of the tale to written text beautifully, including dialogue that invites audience participation. Aruego and Dewey’s (Mouse in Love, p. 886, etc.) signature cartoon-like illustrations extend the humor of the text perfectly. One spread shows the faces of all the animals rejoicing in the yellow light of the newly risen sun—all except Bear, whose glower contrasts ominously with Brown Squirrel’s glee. Clever use of perspective emphasizes the difference in size between boastful Bear and his pint-sized trickster opponent. Authors’ notes precede the story, explaining the history of the tale and each teller’s relationship to it. A winner. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2404-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.”

SOMETIMES PEOPLE MARCH

Simple, direct statements are paired with watercolor illustrations to highlight some of the rallying causes for organized marches throughout the history of the United States.

The text and art begin with two marches that will reemerge as metaphor later in the book: a long line of ants marching to and from a piece of watermelon, and members of a blue-and-gold–clad marching band following their leader’s baton. As the band recedes on the verso, across the gutter an extremely diverse group of people similar to the crowds marching across the book’s cover advances toward readers on recto. Here the text repeats the book’s title. Next, negative space surrounds a small group of women and children—obviously from an earlier time—holding a protest sign. The text explains that sometimes people march “to resist injustice.” The facing page shows a contemporary family gazing with chagrin at a polluted beach; they will march because they “notice a need for change.” The text continues to offer simple explanations of why people march, eventually moving to other peaceful means of resistance, including signs, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, and “taking a knee.” Hardship in the form of physical and psychic exhaustion is mentioned, but police and other legally sanctioned violence against protest is not—the general mood is uplifting encouragement to young, potential activists. This timely book combines rudimentary facts about peaceful resistance with art that depicts organized actions from the 19th century through today, and endnotes reveal more specifics about each illustration, including historic figures represented.

Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.” (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299118-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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