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ZIGGY, STARDUST & ME, by James Brandon--a review by Charlie, 17

This blog is for Indigo--thanks for mentoring me like a little bro. Miss you like a million--

I've done some hard reviews/essays. This may be the hardest. I'm not coming from a place of "I'm a critic and I want to cut this author." I'm not settling a score and I don't want to be unfair or hurt anyone. I'm being true to my just turned 17-Black Seminole-African American-pansexual-2SQ/Indigiqueer self. And others like me. That's all I can do.

My librarian texted me this article about ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME author James Brandon and put the physical copy and eBook on hold for me. She wrote: "I am spotting some issues. You will see more. Read when you're ready, if at all." That was a good warning. But I am so hungry for Two-spirit relationship content in YA, I didn't take a minute.


When I picked up the book at the library, the first thing I did was read the back matter. Those are the author's notes at the back of the book. I never …
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AT THE MOUNTAIN'S BASE, by Traci Sorrel, with illustrations by Weshoyot Alvitre--a review by Ashleigh, 13

Traci Sorell wrote one of our favorite picture books, WE ARE GRATEFUL, Otsaliheliga. She also finished Charlene Willing McManis' novel INDIAN NO MORE. Ms. Traci is a Cherokee Nation citizen, and she writes great books for kids! Her newest book is another picture book based on Cherokee history and traditions: AT THE MOUNTAIN'S BASE.



The book has a simple text like a poem. It starts with:
At the mountain's base/ grows a hickory tree/ Beneath this sits a cabin. Then it turns to:
On that stove/ simmers savory goodness in well-worn pans/ By those pans sits a grandma, weaving
At this point we see the grandma hand-weaving with her granddaughter standing beside her looking on. From the beginning of the book, there are many colored strands of fiber around the pictures, each one connected to the next. This is a very beautiful technique by Tongva/Scots-Gaelic illustrator Alvitre. The weaving connects not just the text and images, but also the Cherokee women in the story, on the land…

Florida Department of Education, We've Got a Situation... by Alexis, 19

On August 14, the Florida Department of Education tweeted:

Here is a link to the list. You will see that it is made up almost entirely of White English/American "classics." These books are considered the great books of children's literature by many people. A good number of these books contain extreme racist and anti-Native content (ex. A Child's Garden of Verses, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Little House in the Big Woods)and/orableism (ex. The Secret Garden, Treasure Island).

                                                      The ugliness...I can't even
The list includes a few cis gay male icons, like Walt Whitman, but not because of their queer work. We recognize Langston Hughes was guarded about his queerness, because of his blackness, the time he lived and personal choice, but the recommended book The Weary Blues includes the following poem. (It may be the most subversive thing on the list!)
Before I talk about reactions to the list--many of which I found i…

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese--a group review

We sat together and read this as a group. Alexis, 19 and Charlie, 16 took turns reading it out loud. Ashleigh, 13 and Michael, 17 listened and we all stopped to go over things. We rarely agree on everything, but all voices were heard and respected.


Ashleigh: When I first picked up the book, I didn't know what I was looking at. Then I realized that the words "An Indigenous Peoples'" are over the sky and "History of the United States" are over the land that has the American flag spray painted on it or creeping on it like a shadow.
Alexis: It's striking! Of course, it's the same cover as the previous adult version by Roxanne Dunbar Ortz, which it should be said none of us have read.

Charlie: This version is much more friendly for us--I mean, it was written for our ages.

Alexis: Yes! Where do you think the book would start in history? I had an interesting reaction to that.

Ashleigh: Yeah, we talked about that. How many of us just assumed it would sta…

HALL OF FAME # 8-- THE CREATOR'S GAME: A STORY OF BAAGA'ADOWE/LACROSSE, by Art Coulson, Review by Michael, 17

Usually, when a teacher or librarian knows you like sports and they are trying to encourage you to read, they'll suggest books by Matt Christopher. Not until I looked him up did I realize the man had been dead for years and "the family continues to oversee productions of books by Matt Christopher created by various writers and illustrators, treating the name as a trademark." To be honest (no shade) that's how the books read.

That's why it was amazing when I came across Art Coulson's (Cherokee) great book, THE CREATOR'S GAME: A STORY OF BAAGA'ADOWE/LACROSSE!


Another subject I like to read is relationships between generations of Indigenous men. There aren't too many books like that. (I picked a very different one, HIDDEN ROOTS, by Joseph Bruchac for the HALL OF FAME before.) Of course, I'm glad to see a mom and grandma in this story too. Sixth grader Travis plays lacrosse, but he's not very good at it and he hates to practice and look like…