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Afro-Native/Ancestral Memory: An Interview with Mama Penny Gamble-Williams, by Charlie, 17

We're all doing at-home school or college and not reading a lot for pleasure. Some of us are experiencing major stress and flare ups of existing conditions. Our parents are furloughed or in essential jobs. We have a half dozen unfinished kidlit & YA Lit reviews and essays, which we promise we'll get to. In the meantime, we are excited to present interviews by some of our mentors and influencers.




It's been the most meaningful event of my time with Indigo’s Bookshelf to interview Mama Penny, as she invited me to call her. This is a simple version of her biography: Penny Gamble-Williams of Wampanoag and African heritage is an artist and spiritual leader involved in Native land, freedom of religion and sacred site issues, Indigenous and environmental rights. She was incredibly generous with her knowledge and experience, knowing that we would share it with all readers. She was warm and supportive at every turn. I am still drinking her words.
C:  We found out about your art, a…
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Mentors & Influencers # 1-- An Interview with Betsy Bird, by Alexis, 20

We are all doing at-home school or college and not reading a lot for pleasure. Some of us are experiencing major stress and flare ups of existing conditions. Our parents are out of work or in essential jobs. We have a half dozen unfinished kidlit & YA Lit reviews and essays, which we promise we'll get to. In the meantime, we are excited to present interviews by a handful of our mentors and influencers. The first person we talked to is Betsy Bird. You know Bets. She of the literary children's blog, A Fuse #8 Production.  Author and editor of fabulous fiction and nonfiction titles, including FUNNY GIRL, THE GREAT SANTA STAKEOUT, WILD THINGS! ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, and her upcoming MG debut, LONG ROAD TO THE CIRCUS. I've got to take an online anatomy quiz now! She can tell you the rest.                                                            Betsy at 13--who you are

A: Were you a big reader as a child? What were some of the books you enjoyed? B:Yep…

Bric-a-brac--a collection of reflections

Alexis, 20: I used to go yardsaling with my Grandpa Joe. When people asked what he was looking for, he'd always say, "Oh, just some bric-a-brac." We're at home, doing school/college online, playing video games, driving around town in masks and gloves to pick up stuff the growns. But we're still talking about kidlit & Ya Lit. This is our bric-a-brac!


Alexis, 20: I can't afford to buy A GIRL CALLED ECHO, VOLUME 3: NORTHWEST RESISTANCE. The first two volumes, written by Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson & color by Donovan Yaciuk, may be my fav books in the Indigenous New Wave. Echo is edgy and her day to day life and historical dream travelling are highly compelling. I looked at the Library website for YA graphic novels with female/femme protagonists. I found the excellent ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR by Robin Ha. I picked it randomly and liked the preview, but it seems right to be reading and celebrating a Asian (Korean…

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…

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 …