CHILDREN OF NATIVE AMERICA TODAY

A well thought-out, neatly executed, and extremely attractive volume that strives to fulfill the promise of its title. There are more than 500 Native American cultures: on two-page profiles arranged geographically, the authors focus on about 26 groups from the Haudenosaunee (the Six Iroquois Nations) of New York to the Iñupiat of Alaska. Striking color photos of children in both traditional and contemporary activities adorn each, along with a fact box giving population, communities, and people of note. A map of the US locates them across the country. The authors strive to give their young readers the sense of the struggle to preserve traditional cultures and values alongside a very contemporary life with activities every child will recognize. They do it in a lively style, too, full of rhetorical “did you know?” queries, a sprinkling of exclamation points, and bits about the code talkers and skywalkers. Information is sometimes fascinating, or even touching—state senator Bill Yellowtail asked for his Crow clan’s counsel before he ran for office; Supai, in Arizona, can only get mail via pack-mule train. There’s even a page for Native people living in cities; after all, New York City has the largest Native American population in the country. An invaluable and attractive resource, particularly for younger children. (resources for further study, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-57091-499-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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THE YEAR OF MISS AGNES

In 1948 the unorthodox Miss Agnes arrives to teach the children of an Athabascan Indian Village in remote Alaska. Ten-year-old Fred (Fredrika) matter-of-factly narrates this story of how a teacher transformed the school. Miss Agnes’s one-room schoolhouse is a progressive classroom, where the old textbooks are stored away first thing upon her arrival. The children learn to read using handmade books that are about their own village and lives: winter trapping camps, tanning moose hides, fishing, and curing the catch, etc. Math is a lesson on how not to get cheated when selling animal pelts. These young geographers learn about the world on a huge map that covers one whole schoolhouse wall. Fred is pitch-perfect in her observations of the village residents. “Little Pete made a picture of his dad’s trapline cabin . . . He was proud of that picture, I could tell, because he kept making fun of it.” Hill (Winter Camp, 1993, etc.) creates a community of realistically unique adults and children that is rich in the detail of their daily lives. Big Pete is as small and scrappy, as his son Little Pete is huge, gentle, and kind. Fred’s 12-year-old deaf sister, Bokko, has her father’s smile and has never gone to school until Miss Agnes. Charlie-Boy is so physically adept at age 6 that he is the best runner, thrower, and catcher of all the children. These are just a few of the residents in this rural community. The school year is not without tension. Will Bokko continue in school? Will Mama stay angry with Miss Agnes? And most important, who will be their teacher after Miss Agnes leaves? A quiet, yet satisfying account. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82933-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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INDIAN SHOES

A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. Ray and his Grampa Halfmoon live in Chicago, but Grampa comes from Oklahoma. Six vignettes make up the short chapters. Among them: Ray finds a way to buy Grampa the pair of moccasins that remind him of home and Smith gets in a gentle jab at the commercialization of Native American artifacts. At a Christmas stuck far away from the Oklahoma relatives the pair finds comfort and joy even when the electricity goes out, and in a funny sequence of disasters, a haircut gone seriously awry enables a purple-and-orange dye job to be just the ticket for little-league spirit. The language is spare, clean, and rhythmic, with a little sentimentality to soften the edges. Ray and Grampa have a warm and loving intergenerational bond that’s an added treat. With a nod toward contemporary Native Americans, Grampa tells Cherokee and Seminole family stories, and when Ray gets to be in a wedding party, the groom is Polish-Menominee and his bride is Choctaw. An excellent choice for younger readers from the author of the bittersweet Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029531-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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