Indigenous Peoples' Day 2019

It’s Indigenous Peoples' Day! We urge you — today and all year — to seek out and share books respectfully representing indigenous North American peoples and cultures. For an extensive resource by 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). And we look forward to the announcement of the American Indian Library Association's American Indian Youth Literature Awards — another source for excellent children's books by and about American Indians — at the ALA Youth Media Awards in 2020.

Earlier this month, a 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book honor book award for picture book was presented to We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; illustrated by Frané Lessac. The upcoming November/December Horn Book Magazine features a starred review of a picture book by a Native author — Birdsong by Julie Flett — along with reviews of Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal; Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell; The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills; Ghosts, the final volume in David A. Robertson's Reckoner trilogy; plus a review of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese, in the "Books By Our Friends" section. Our current September/October Horn Book Magazine issue features reviews of At the Mountain's Base by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre and This Place: 150 Years Retold by various authors, illustrated by various artists. And in the July/August issue we reviewed Children of the First People: Fresh Voices of Alaska's Native Kids by Tricia Brown, photographs by Roy Corral. More recommended books from the past year are below, and see our booklists from 2018 and 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. 


Picture Books

Campbell, Nicola I. A Day with Yayah

32 pp. | Crocodile | March, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-1-56656-041-2 $17.95

K-3 Illustrated by Julie Flett. In the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, where Interior Salishan peoples live, Nikki and friends forage for wild plants with relatives, including Yayah (grandmother). Yayah emphasizes the importance of plant identification and naming in their endangered Indigenous language, Nłe?kepmxcín. Using the text's pronunciation guidance and the glossary, interested readers will learn along with the young characters. Quiet collage-like art emphasizes the land's natural riches. Author's note included.

Hunt, Dallas Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

32 pp. | HighWater | March, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-55379-779-1 $19.95 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-55379-791-4

K-3 Illustrated by Amanda Strong. Little girl Awâsis loses her Kôhkum's (grandmother) famous bannock on the way to her relatives' house. With the help of her friends in the forest, Awâsis is able to collect all the ingredients she needs to make a new one. Soft, naive illustrations make it easy for readers to understand the Cree words used in the story; a glossary/pronunciation guide is appended, along with a recipe.


Smith, Cynthia Leitich Hearts Unbroken

298 pp. | Candlewick | October, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-8114-2 $17.99

YA Louise Wolfe--a high-school senior, budding journalist, and member of the Muscogee Nation--works on the school newspaper, where she meets half-Lebanese/half-Scottish Joey Kairouz, an ambitious photojournalist. Lou learns how to write about controversy with the school's "color-conscious" casting of its Wizard of Oz production. Lou and Joey's love story deepens over the course of the novel, and Smith effectively presents the continuous microaggressions Lou faces as a young Native woman. Glos.

Tingle, Tim Stone River Crossing

324 pp. | Lee/Tu | May, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-62014-823-5 $20.95

4-6 Martha Tom crosses the Bok Chitto River, which separates the Choctaw Nation from a white-owned plantation, and she meets enslaved boy Lil Mo. The two become friends, and she helps his family cross the river to freedom. Tingle's narrative, set in 1808 Mississippi and told with heart and humor, brings to life a multitude of fascinating characters while illuminating a little-known moment in history. Glos.



Atwater, Barbara J. &  Atwater, Ethan J. How Raven Got His Crooked Nose: An Alaskan Dena'ina Fable

40 pp. | Alaska | April, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-1-5132-6095-2 $16.99 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-5132-6096-9

4-6 Illustrated by Mindy Dwyer. When Granddaughter rushes and spills blueberries, Grandmother explains how trickster raven Chulyen's nose became bent because he hurried. After Chulyen loses his beak, an old woman uses it as a tool; Chulyen steals his nose back, but without noticing it's now worn and crooked. Sprightly comic-style art and the inclusion of Dena'ina words make this an engaging retelling from southern Alaska. Reading list. Glos.

Bowles, David Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico

303 pp. | Cinco | April, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-1-941026-71-7 $24.95 | Paper ISBN 978-1-941026-72-4$16.95 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-941026-73-1

YA In this dense but readable anthology of captivating tales from pre-Columbian Mexico, a variety of creation and origin myths are ordered chronologically to share a narrative history of the world from the Aztec and Maya perspectives. Background information is provided in the introduction. Add this title to collections of myths from around the world. Pronunciation guide included. Bib., glos.

Bruchac, Joseph Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker's Story

32 pp. | Whitman | April, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-0-8075-0007-1 $16.99

K-3 Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. Young Chester Nez was sent to a missionary boarding school that taught English, but he ignored his teachers by retaining his native Navajo language and culture. As a soldier in World War II, Chester became one of the original Navajo code talkers, helping to defeat the Japanese. Muted illustrations enhance the informative biography. A portion of the Navajo code is appended. Timeline.

Coulson, Art Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

40 pp. | Capstone | August, 2018 | Library ISBN 978-1-5435-0406-4 $15.95 | Paper ISBN 978-1-5435-0413-2$7.95 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-5435-0407-1

K-3 Encounter series. Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle. At age sixteen, American Indian Jim Thorpe was sent to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. In spite of adversity, he thrived there as a multi-sport athlete, particularly as the 1912 football team's linchpin in beating--against all odds--West Point's Army team. Straightforward, conversational text and meticulous ink and watercolor art reveal the prowess and importance of this extraordinary athlete. Reading list. Bib., glos.

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Tony Perry

May I also suggest "Chula the Fox", a middle grade historical fiction book published in Oct 2018 by the White Dog Press, the fiction imprint of the Chickasaw Press? More information, including reviews and awards, can be found here: Thank you!

Posted : Oct 16, 2019 04:49

Debbie Reese

How about adding AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, FOR YOUNG PEOPLE to your list? It is an adaptation of the original, published in 2014.

Posted : Oct 15, 2019 11:33

Horn Book

Thanks for the reminder, Debbie -- please see edit to the post above.

Posted : Oct 15, 2019 11:33



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