This debut picture book links the alphabet to words from Chickasaw culture, history, and language.
Abecedarian works for children are thick on the ground, but they almost always stick to English vocabulary and mainstream culture concepts. This is a rare volume that connects the ABCs to Native Americans, focusing on the Chickasaw. Each entry includes a usually English word with its Chickasaw translation, a rhyming couplet, an illustration, and a short paragraph with more specifics. For example, under Y is “yarn” (or “nantanna’ toba’ ”): “Lovely belt made by a Chickasaw hand / Finger weaving each individual strand.” The image shows a woman weaving on a wooden frame; the text explains: “Finger-weaving is the art of weaving items without a loom. Chickasaws use finger-weaving to make straps, garters, belts, and sashes. Yarn is used today, but ancient Chickasaws used woven plant fibers.” These several levels of information make the book useful for both younger and older readers; a helpful glossary, study questions, and activities are included. Barnes and debut illustrator Long, Chickasaw and Choctaw, respectively, bring authenticity to these educational and intriguing ABCs. The couplets sometimes scan roughly, but youngsters won’t mind; the compelling entries will pique their interest. The images, which “reflect the style found on ancient shell engravings from the Mississippian period,” are very pleasing: detailed but easy to decipher, in attractive soft colors with bright accents.
Teaches much more than the ABCs with solid Native American information and beautiful illustrations.