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Truth & Love: Dr. Debbie Reese's 2019 Arbuthnot Lecture

Rewatching Debbie Reese’s Arbuthnot lecture, “An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children’s Literature”

By Alexis, 19, Eduardo, 19, Michael, 17, Charlie, 16 and Ashleigh, 13 (We start watching the lecture again, stopping the video, taking notes and texting)


Eduardo: There is a bit missing at the beginning, but it comes in just in time for Ms. Debbie to talk about teaching kindergarten and first grade.
Alexis: Ms. Debbie shares photos of reading to her daughter. “We read A LOT.” So important for Indigenous elders and children to share books, which is why AICL is the best resource.
Ashleigh: There she is! She looks so beautiful and such a warm voice.
Eduardo: In 1993, her family moved on campus and encountered a racist ‘Indian’ mascot. “Trying to understand why people were so moved by that clearly ridiculous image changed me. I started studying and talking about Native depictions in children’s books.”
Alexis: Her daughter Liz pointed out to a teacher that a book with Native representation …
Recent posts

Looking for Me: Jussie Smollett, A Place for Wolves and my family, by Charlie, Age 16

It's hard to be a Black Seminole in Florida. Accroding to the Seminole Tribe of Florida website's FAQs, the term 'Black Seminole' "is a misnomer that sometimes confuses more than it explains." I looked up 'misnomer' in the dictionary. It means "a wrong or inaccurate name or designation." Yet that's what many of us call ourselves--like our ancestors did.



The Tribal webpage quotes African American historian Kenneth Porter who describes Black Seminoles as "Those people of African origin who attached themselves voluntarily to the Seminoles or were purchased by them as slaves. The were permitted by the Seminoles to make their camps close by the Seminole camps, and, in return, shared agricultural produce with the Indians. A few of them gained prominence among the Seminole because of their ability to translate. At least one, Abraham, was a "sense bearer" or spokesman for Micanopy, a hereditary micco or civic leader."



That le…

A GIRL CALLED ECHO, by Katherena Vermette, review by Alexis, 18

A GIRL CALLED ECHO is the first graphic novel in the series A Girl Called Echo. Echo Desjardins is a thirteen-year-old Metis girl in Manitoba adjusting to a new home and school. The lessons in her history class about the Pemmican Wars literally transport Echo back to those times. She visits a Metis hunting camp where she befriends a girl named Marie, follows fur-trade routes and witnesses he conflicts and resilience of her ancestors.



I love this book. The words and images are perfectly matched. Echo is, like all Native/First Nations teens, a contemporary girl and also an echo of all the generations that have come before. Here are some special moments. When Echo first meets Marie, there is a great two-page spread of Marie showing her around, the two of them bonding, until they are lying under the stars side by side. I love seeing Echo in the library, browsing the graphic novels. I like seeing her playlists (Red Hot Chili Peppers!) There is one page that goes through her school day, e…

For Your Consideration, Part 2, by Alexis, 18

Now that I am working in a library as Page and talking to librarians and following Native and kidlit Twitter, I am also looking at "mock" award blogs for ALA 2019.

A little while back, SLJ's HEAVY MEDAL: A Mock Newbery Blog had what I thought was a very ugly review of Jewell Parker Rhodes' GHOST BOYS. I did meet Ms. Rhodes when she visited our library and schools. She was nice. I have read books by her, like SUGAR, which I liked. I have not read the one being discussed. I haven't looked for other criticisms of the book. Even the blog title made me grit my teeth. "Powerful, Gripping, Important, Timely--but is it distinguished?"
To me, "distinguished' is a word like 'articulate." It's coded White people talk for something IPOC don't have and have to work harder to achieve. Something we're not expected to innately have or be. So I pricked up my ears. Reading the comments was even worse. 
I don't want to discuss it all here…

HALL OF FAME # 6-- WHEN TURTLE GREW FEATHERS, by Tim Tingle, Review by Alexis, 18

After writing the last blog, Michael is reflecting, healing and taking a step back. He asked me to do the next Hall of Fame pick. As we've stated before, individual reviews are the opinion of one reviewer, but we unanimously vote for HOF titles.

Eduardo, almost 19!, is taking forever finishing his review of WHEN A GHOST TALKS, LISTEN: A CHOCTAW TRAIL OF TEARS STORY. I know how hard it is when you want to get a review just right and are also worrying about how it will be received.

To Eduardo, Tim Tingle is the GOAT, plain and simple. And, come on, we all love and respect him and his work. We almost feel we know him. The storyteller who gathers the kids round when the parents are trying to shoo them off to bed. And he always captures their imaginations and sets their dreams spinning. He also has a spark of genius.

WHEN TURTLES GREW FEATHERS: A FOLKTALE FROM THE CHOCTAW NATION is sitting in the woven basket next to my bed where I keep all my library books. My mom read it to me, I'…

Arnold Spirit, Jr., Mason Buttle, Shane Burcaw and Me, by Michael, Age 17

This is going to be a controversial post for some people, because I'm going to explain why I can't let go of Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN.


I'm not defending Alexie for the horrible charges against him by Native women, who have my total support. I know that members of @ofglades and Indigo's Bookshelf cannot separate Alexie from his work. I respect that. Most of his books I can leave behind.

But as a Native crip, Arnold Spirit, Jr. became the most important character I ever read (actually, I listened to the audiobook). There is no other like him.

Sherman Alexie was born with hydrocephalus. That's one of those disabilities where people talk "quality of life." He had brain surgery at six months old and still has some side effects, like reduced vision and stuttering. As a kid, Alexie had seizures and bedwetting. He was bullied with ableist slurs because of his large head. He couldn't participate in a lot of "no…