Twenty-one years after Children of the Midnight Sun, Brown and Corral reteam for a follow-up.
Before one gets to read the stories of the Alaska Native children highlighted in this book, the introduction makes the case that Alaska Native kids are “just like any other kid,” as if to normalize Indigenous children for the evidently non-Native audience that the book seems to imagine. Author Brown and photographer Corral trek across Alaska to a sample selection of children from 10 Indigenous cultures of Alaska. Each chapter looks at the life of one child as representative of their culture. The stories tell of the day-to-day activities of each child, how they engage with their families, their traditional culture, and their aspirations. The overview is in Brown’s voice, and interspersed within that narrative are snippets of quotes from the children. Photographs highlight the children with their family members, engaged in sports, having fun outdoors, or dressed in traditional clothing. Though the book attempts to celebrate these children and their respective cultures, the depictions at times feel objectified, seen through an ethnographic lens. Mention of the harsh colonial impact on their cultures is minimized; for example, readers learn that the missionary William Duncan established a rigidly evangelical Christian community on a Tlingit-populated island with a group of Tsimshian but not that he profited from their labor.
Readers come away wishing for more of the children’s voices and less of Brown’s. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)