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WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, by Carole Lindstrom & illustrated by Michaela Goade--a group review

We are water protectors.
Our sacred place is the Everglades.
We go tubing down the Ichetucknee and dive in Blue Springs.
We fill cups and mugs with water all day long to keep us hydrated and well in the Florida weather.
This is our small poem. But Anishinabe/M├ętis author Carole Lindstrom goes much farther in her lyrical picture book WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, stunningly illustrated by Tlingit Michaela Goade.


Alexis, 20: The book begins with the line: "Water is the first medicine. Nokomis told me." In the glossary, we learn Nokomis means 'Grandmother' in Ojibwe.

Ashleigh, 13:  I love that picture of the girl and gramma standing in the water together running it through their fingers. All the different shades of blue from the waves to the sky.



Charlie, 17: I like this: "The river's rhythm runs through my veins. Runs through my people's veins." I also like the clear gaze of the Anishinabe girl. She looks directly at the reader. So many times, with issue…
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A Fight Over the 1800s in Kid Lit (Remember to Write For Native Kids & Teens)-- by Alexis, 19

To write about Native nations or tribes or not? That is the question.



If you are a non-Native author writing a US historical novel for kids or teens, there are several challenges. One is that Indigenous people have lived/are living in places you describe and called/call them home. (Notice I'm assuming that you're not writing a Native MC. Unless you are Debbie Dahl Edwardson writing MY NAME IS NOT EASY (and you're not) don't try it.) If you don't acknowledge this basic fact in our colliding, brutal histories, you are practicing erasure and will be called out for it. If you do acknowledge it, you most likely will be criticized for not getting everything right.
Great book!
That's normal--we exist in a White supremacist American society with deep rooted prejudices and stereotypes that run in every direction. We have to dig deep to pull them up. Many of us are doing this work, but we still get it wrong. I've documented some of my mistakes. Some of my fav Native …

MARY AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS, A CHEROKEE REMOVAL SURVIVAL STORY, by Andrea L. Rogers--a group review

Alexis, 19: They say never judge a book by its cover. That's definitely true for Andrea L. Roger's brilliant, surprising MARY AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS, A CHEROKEE REMOVAL SURVIVAL STORY. It's one book in the GIRLS SURVIVE series. We applaud Capstone for having Rogers, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, tell this story. It makes all the difference for authenticity and makes this book essential reading in families and schools.


Ashleigh, 13: The beginning of Ms. Andrea's book reminded me of MORNING GIRL, by Michael Dorris. That's one of my favorite books and all schools should teach it for Columbus Day. In MARY, we get to see a happy Cherokee family before their removal. That makes them loving of each other and self-confident. It's also a book about sisters, and Mary and Becky remind me of me and Vi.


Alexis, 19: Books about the Trail or Tears focus on the genocide, the worst horrors. That's in here. But the novel also shows exactly how everythi…

FRY BREAD, by Kevin Noble Maillard, Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal--a group review

There is no doubt about it--Native children's literature and  YA literature, fiction and nonfiction, is having a moment. Every time we turn around, there's another wonderful book at the library or the publication details are announced or there's an exciting blog or interview. Of course, we feel kinship with all Native books meant to lift us up, and give others authentic representation of every nation and culture. Some Indigenous authors are distant cousins--like Cynthia Leitich Smith, who is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and recognized this by including a Seminole character in RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME. But when we first heard about FRY BREAD and Kevin Noble Maillard, that was something else. When we discovered he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band and African American, that was something else altogether.


Ashleigh, 13: I keep reading this book, over and over. My mom has read it--by herself and then aloud to me and Vi, showing us the illustrations …

THANKU, POEMS OF GRATITUDE, by many authors--a review by Ashleigh, 13

I like poetry. I was attracted to this book because of the beautiful cover. The outline of a girl of Color blowing a dandelion that releases the names of the poets in rainbow colors. Yes, illustrator Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscokee Creek) did beautiful work.

This book contains a diversity of poems and poets, some of them Native. The first poem, "Giving Thanks," by Joseph Bruchac, is dedicated to the memory of Chief Jake Swamp, whose book GIVING THANKS, A NATIVE GOOD MORNING PRAYER, is in most of our homes and some of our schools. It's a Reading Rainbow book. Bruchac offer a shorter version that begins: "Thanksgiving is more/ that just one day, so a Mohawk elder/ said to me."
  The back of the book includes part of the Bruchac poem--love that girl's hair!
Th@nksgiving is in the background of this book. The poems, edited by Miranda Paul, say thanku to things big and small without validating the anti-Indigenous US myth.
Carole Lindstrom (Ani…

SHOW ME A SIGN, by Ann Clare Le Zotte--a group review

Alexis, 19: I have a long-term relationship with this author. I was a volunteer and then intern at the library where she works. She introduced me to AICL and Debbie Reese. She helped raise funds to create a trust for Indigo (2002- 2018), and for my care in an ED clinic. She helps edit our blogs and is still a go-to for help and advice. I read part of a previous version of this book and offered specific corrections on the galleys, which Ms. Ann included. We will try to be neutral in this review as we were with Ms. Debbie and Ms. Jean's AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNTED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. Like that book, we are reviewing SHOW ME A SIGN not as a favor but because we feel it has value.


This book will not be published till March 3, 2020. We did a group read. This discussion includes few spoilers (none of the major plot twists) because we think it's necessary to evaluate the book.

Alexis, 19: There are a lot of books by White authors for young readers set in the…