The Métis visionary never fully comes to life in this book.

CUTHBERT GRANT

An illustrated biography of an early-19th-century Métis leader.

Alas, a fascinating life does not make a fascinating read in this book about Cuthbert Grant (1793-1854), mixed-race son of a Scottish fur-trader father and Métis mother. Author Lindstrom (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians) presents Grant here as a man ahead of his time due to his combined Indigenous and Western education. With a foot in both worlds, he gains influence in powerful business circles and rises to help his people through the creation of a Métis town known as Grantown in the wake of laws that prevented them from hunting the buffalo. Notably, the story positions him as loyal to the fur trade. He is a champion of the Métis and protector of the hunt, though his reasoning goes beyond tradition to commercial concerns. The frequently digressive text mentions both the death of his father and the tragic disappearance of his wife and child with flat language that does little to invest readers. The battles and wars are mentioned in passing, and little attention is given to the competing value systems of the era. If Grant was passionate, conflicted, or angry, readers do not feel it. Illustrator Woods (Long Plain First Nation) gives this dryly factual biography all of its color, combining the occasional photo with vivid, textured paintings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22% of actual size.)

The Métis visionary never fully comes to life in this book. (author's note, bibliography) (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6866-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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