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SALTYPIE by Tim Tingle

SALTYPIE

A Choctaw Journey from Darkness Into Light

by Tim Tingle & illustrated by Karen Clarkson

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-933693-67-5
Publisher: Cinco Puntos

A grandmother’s life story centers this welcome depiction of a contemporary Choctaw family. A young boy’s bee sting is soothed when the grandmother calls his hurt “saltypie.” A flashback reveals the origin of the expression: A stone malevolently thrown at a young mother injures her, and her son, thinking the blood is like pie filling, tastes it and pronounces it “saltypie.” When the bee-stung boy discovers his grandmother’s blindness, possibly resulting from the blow, an uncle explains, “You just kind of shrug it off, say saltypie. It helps you carry on.” Years later, the extended family gathers in a Houston hospital, sharing its collective past while the grandmother undergoes eye surgery: “No more saltypie …Mawmaw can see.” The grown boy realizes that his grandmother, “Blind as she was…taught so many how to see.” The term “eye transplant,” the cause of the blindness and the sequencing of events could be clearer. Nevertheless, Tingle provides a corrective view of contemporary Native American life, as his author’s note reveals was his intent. Clarkson’s evocative illustrations bathe each scene in a soft light that accentuates the warmth of the family’s love. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)