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Showing posts from November, 2018

HEARTS UNBROKEN, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Review by Alexis, 18

Yeah, there are spoilers. I read the book, and I want to talk about it!


I don't think there is anything wrong with older teens and 'new adults' reading books for babies, kids and younger teens. Many middle aged people read YA. I do think if you rarely saw yourself in books, TV, movies when you were growing up, you don't stop looking. At least, that's true for me. I want to promote #ownvoices Indigenous books to help younger kids, but I am still trying to help me too!

This book floored me. It. Knocked. Me. Out.

There are Native #ownvoices books that I love fiercely (like FATTY LEGS, A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and THE MARROW THIEVES, by Cherie Dimaline.) Those aren't exactly my stories. But they are part of my heritage as an Indigenous young woman, a Seminole and American citizen. I find puzzle pieces or torn up parts of road maps in these books that help me find my way.

My life is not exactly like that of Louise Wolf, the…

HALL OF FAME # 4-- BLACK BEAR, RED FOX, Colors in Cree, by Julie Flett

Ashleigh, 13: This must be Julie Flett celebration day! I said in my part of the review for Traci Sorell's WE ARE GRATEFUL, Otsaliheliga, that I love bears. I especially love Black Bears. I respect their dark beauty and fierce power. There are 4.000 Black Bears in Florida today.


I also love Julie Flett's book, BLACK BEAR, RED FOX, Counting in Cree. I share it with my four year old sister, Violet. I show her the book, and she points out the colors and animals. Together, we say the words in Cree. If she gets excited and throws or bites it, it doesn't even hurt the book!

It is simple and beautiful. Just right to share with the young ones.
Shonabish, Julie Flett <3

PS My mother Roberta wants to add:

Vi has sensory processing issues. The fact that this book is not 'too busy' is comforting to her and she can easily absorb the information.










HALL OF FAME # 3-- WHEN WE WERE ALONE, By David Alexander Robertson, Illustrations by Julie Flett

We decided as a team that every time one of us (or a group of us) posts a review, that person is going to pick a Hall of Fame book, author or series. Although the reviews are one member's (or individuals in a group's) opinion/s, the Hall of Fame books have been unanimously voted as essential Native #ownvoices and kidlit & YALit classics.

Because three of us created the last review, we all had different ideas about which book should be chosen next. Eduardo decided to keep his choice for when he completes his review of Tim Tingle's WHEN A GHOST TALKS, LISTEN, A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story.

Alexis, 18: I am choosing WHEN WE WERE ALONE, by David Alexander Robertson, with illustrations by Julie Flett. I'm not sure why it immediately came to mind to pair with WE ARE GRATEFUL, Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorell. Maybe it had something to do with the two girls in the fall leaves on the cover. Maybe because at this time of year, we honor our legacy of pain and destruction (even…

WE ARE GRATEFUL, Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorell, Review by Alexis, 18, Eduardo, 18 and Ashleigh, 13

We have read this book many times since it was published in October 2018. It is a feast for the heart, eyes, voice and mind. Since we think it is a major work, that has already been awarded (and should receive further awards) and many of us have read and discussed it, we decided to do a group review.



Alexis: I heard a lot about this book before it was released. I was instantly intrigued by the concept of it and by the cover. The bright, distinctive artwork, the font of the title and, of course, the title in Cherokee and also in the Cherokee syllabary. I read it very quickly the first time. Probably because I was filled with expectation. I immediately thought it was beautiful and a much fuller book, with more information, than I had expected. I also thought the words and illustrations were a perfect combination.

Eduardo. You know I'm a wannabe filmmaker, so, yeah, I immediately recognized that the book was the whole package. Author and illustrator worked perfectly together. I really …

HALL OF FAME # 2-- HIDDEN ROOTS, by Joseph Bruchac

We decided as a team that every time one of us posts a review, that person is also going to pick a Hall of Fame book, author or series. Although the reviews are one member's opinion, the Hall of Fame books have been unanimously voted as essential Native #ownvoices and kidlit & YALit classics.



Michael, 17 picks...THE HIDDEN ROOTS, by Joseph Bruchac. Bruchac is the one Native author that we were all assigned in school. At least one of his books has appeared on the influential (in Florida) SSYRA lists. I love his scary books. SKELETON MAN was one of the first books I was able to read cover to cover all by myself. I didn't lose my dyslexia, but I was so fascinated by it, I barely struggled to get it read and I wanted to talk to everyone about it and read the first few pages aloud to freak people out.



HIDDEN ROOTS (#ownvoices/Abenaki) was a slower read for me. I kept going back over it, because I didn't want to miss anything. It is a book where the 11 year old MC Sonny does…

UNSTOPPABLE: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army, by Art Coulson, Review by Michael, Age 17

Are you ready for some football?

I was assigned to write a review of UNSTOPPABLE: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army. The book is written by Art Coulson and illustrated by Nick Hardcastle.



Even though the cover looked cool and the book isn't too long, I was still intimidated to do it, because I'm dyslexic. But it turned out to be a great read that didn't frustrate me at all. As a matter of fact, it's one of my new favorite books. Let me explain why.

I have CP, that's cerebral palsy. I get around in a chair. And I play some sports. But I really like watching games and listening to them being called. Coulson did an excellent job of making me feel like I was at the Carlisle-Army Game. He is obviously also a sports fan, and can keep up the tension and excitement of the game.

I think he did an amazing job of getting young readers to know Jim Thorpe. He doesn't just seem like a legend (Olympian gold medalist and football star),…

HALL OF FAME # 1--THE BIRCHBARK SERIES, by Louise Erdrich

We decided as a team that every time one of us posts a review, that person is also going to pick a Hall of Fame book, author or series. Although the reviews are one member's opinion, the Hall of Fame books have been unanimously voted as essential Native #ownvoices and kidlit & YALit classics.

This series is a no-brainer as a first choice. Each of us has our own favorite. Mine is still the first book, THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE. Eduardo's is THE PORCUPINE YEAR. Michael's is MAKOONS, which he enjoys listening to, because he's dyslexic.

If you are unfamiliar with this series, read reviews by Debbie Reese at AICL, or just pick them up at your local library or bookstore and dig in. It's an unforgettable, life-affirming, heart & mind-changing experience.




APPLE IN THE MIDDLE, by Dawn Quigley--Review by Alexis, Age 18

*Warning: There are spoilers because I discuss the book, but I don’t give away important plot points. There is also use of the n-word.
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was really drawn to the image on Dawn Quigley’s APPLE IN THE MIDDLE (AITM) before the book was even published (August 2018). The image of a contemporary Native teen, who is not ridiculously glamorous, but pretty and real (love those earrings!), got stuck in my mind immediately. I thought, ‘I want to know who this girl is,’ and why there’s a pink house in the background.
I am happy to say that the book more than lived up to my expectations. It’s not just a well-written, enjoyable book I admired from a distance. In some ways, I feel I am that girl on the cover, fifteen-year old Apple Starkington. Even though the circumstances of our lives are very different.
Like Apple, I have a White father and a Native mother. My mom is Florida Seminole, while Apple’s mother was Turtle Mountain Chippewa. I was raised b…

For Your Consideration...

Do you know that 2018 was an AWESOME year for Native kidlit and yalit? Yet we are seeing hardly any of the books on the "mock" Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, Sibert Award blogs and year-end "Best of..." lists. We are overjoyed to see more POC #ownvoices recognized, though with little queer or disabled intersections, and these forums still seem dominated by White mediocrity and conformity.

Which leads us to ask--are mainstream lists and awards important? Yes, we think they are. They give books and authors more recognition and a wider audience.

We *deeply* love the American Indian Youth Literature Awards. They are presented every two years. The 2018 selections include some of our all-time favorite books!

We are also thrilled to see our mentor Native librarians and scholars getting the word out in *amazing* articles and interviews. By Alia Jones: "Native YA: Four Native American Authors on Their Messages for Teens." By Debbie Reese: 12 Picture Books That Show…

Welcome to Indigo's Bookshelf!

We are a group of Florida Natives--Miccosukee, Seminole, Black, Latinix, queer and disabled--from the ages 12-20, who are passionate about kidlit and yalit.

We believe in the power of books to reflect, entertain and enrich our lives from the time we are young ones. We enjoy books in digital and bound copies, with texts and/or graphics.

We have experienced the bitter disappointment and danger of widespread Native misrepresentation, theft, cruelty and lies in books for all young readers.

This blog is dedicated to reviewing Native #ownvoices. To us, that means books written from an inside perspective by Native authors, with proper research, respect and authorization, first and foremost for young Native readers, but also to educate other young readers and their families.
We join our elders in calling to replace harmful, stereotypical texts in libraries, schools and homes.

This blog is named after our friend Indigo, a Q2S sixteen-year-old who took her own life in 2018
 Her beauty, courag…