Indigenous Peoples' Day 2018

It’s Indigenous Peoples' Day! We urge you — today and all year — to seek out and share books respectfully representing and honoring the multitude of indigenous North American peoples and cultures. We look forward to announcement of the American Indian Library Association's American Indian Youth Literature Awards — for the first time! — at the ALA Youth Media Awards in 2019. For an extensive resource by both a cultural insider and a children’s literature scholar, please visit Dr. Debbie Reese’s website American Indians in Children’s Literature (and in particular her “Best Books of the Year” lists).

The upcoming November/December Horn Book Magazine features starred reviews of two books by Native #OwnVoices authors — We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac — along with reviews of the second book in Tim Tingle's How I Became a Ghost series, When a Ghost Talks, Listen, and Cynthia Leitich Smith's novel Hearts Unbroken. More recommended books from the past year are below, and see our booklist from 2017 for additional titles. Reviews appeared in The Horn Book Magazine and Guide at the time of their publication and are reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online.

We welcome your suggestions as well!


González, Xelena All Around Us
32 pp. Cinco 2017. ISBN 978-1-941026-76-2

Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia. A girl learns about the cycle of life, death, and renewal from her grandfather as they work in the garden, take a walk, and water a tree planted when the girl was born. Verdant illustrations full of circles and arced lines keep the focus on the close-knit pair as they explore the life-affirming traditions of their mestizo heritage; a note discusses González's "mix of Native American and Spanish ancestry."

Nicholson, Caitlin Dale nipêhon / I Wait
24 pp. Groundwood 2017. ISBN 978-1-55498-914-0
Ebook ISBN 978-1-55498-915-7

Illustrated by Caitlin Dale Nicholson. With Leona Morin-Neilson. Translated by Leona Morin-Neilson. As nôhkom (grandmother), mother, and daughter work together to pick wild yarrow for tea, the connections between tradition, prayer, and everyday life are evident in striking full-page acrylic paintings on canvas. The understated story of multi-generational togetherness is told in primer-like sentences written in two Cree formats (roman orthography and syllabics) and in English. A recipe for yarrow tea is appended.

Robertson, Joanne The Water Walker
40 pp. Second Story 2017. ISBN 978-1-77260-038-4

An Ojibwe woman and friends, concerned about human carelessness for Nibi (water), walk around the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River, and more to bring attention to the problem. Illustrated with simple childlike art (the human faces have dots for eyes and no other features) and sprinkled with Ojibwe words, this eco-story is based on the life of Nokomis Josephine Mandamin, who formed the Mother Earth Water Walkers. Glos.

Thomas, Penny M. Nimoshom and His Bus
HighWater 2017. ISBN 978-1-55379-708-1
Ebook ISBN 978-1-55379-733-3

Illustrated by Karen Hibbard. Nimoshom ("my grandfather") is a beloved school bus driver who sometimes speaks in Cree. A brief text about his daily routine incorporates Cree words. "In the morning, nimoshom would greet the kids. He would say: 'Tansi!' Tansi means hello." The story's rhythmic pacing and conversational quality makes for an enjoyable read-aloud experience. Loose, expressive mixed-media illustrations capture the warm relationship between nimoshom and the children. Glos.


Bruchac, Joseph Arrow of Lightning
392 pp. Lee/Tu 2017. ISBN 978-1-62014-330-8

Killer of Enemies series. In the post-apocalyptic trilogy's enthralling final volume, the powers Lozen inherited from her Chiricahua ancestors show her that an assassin is on her trail and that the remaining rulers of Haven plan to destroy her settlement. As before, Lozen's decisions are informed by stories from her Native heritage; appearances by Coyote himself and other supernatural actors keep the boundary between sci-fi and folklore porous.

Gansworth, Eric Give Me Some Truth
424 pp. Scholastic/Levine 2018. ISBN 978-1-338-14354-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-338-14355-3

In this rich, honest companion novel to If I Ever Get Out of Here, seventeen-year-old Carson and fifteen-year-old Maggi prepare for a high-stakes Battle of the Bands. Their alternating first-person narratives, set in 1980 on the Tuscarora Indian Nation near Niagara Falls, offer an intimate look at the teens' lives within their Indigenous culture, which embraces modern popular culture but still often faces outsiders' abuse.

Robertson, David A. Strangers
233 pp. HighWater 2018. Paperback ISBN 978-1-55379-676-3
Ebook ISBN 978-1-55379-737-1

Reckoner series. Cole returns to his Cree community, which is caught up in a rash of illnesses and violent murders that he's suspected of precipitating. A spirit being insists Cole is an Indigenous superhero, and he must resolve this crisis before more people die. A mash-up of thriller, superhero origin story, old-fashioned sci-fi, and YA coming-of-age; Indigenous imagery and cultural references bring these genres' conventions into an invigorating context.



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