A timely, must-read tale about overcoming divisions as a nation.

A PEACEMAKER FOR WARRING NATIONS

THE FOUNDING OF THE IROQUOIS LEAGUE

An account of the origins of American democracy via the Haudenosaunee League, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy.

This inspiring picture book for upper-elementary–age kids recounts the founding of the Haudenosaunee League, centuries before the United States became a nation, by a man known as the Peacemaker. In a time of violence and war, a child is conceived without a father and born to a single mother. His grandmother is baffled until one night a stranger appears by her bed to explain that the child has been sent as a prophet to heal nations. On one level, Bruchac’s (Nulhegan Abenaki) tale is a great introduction to archetypes, as the legendary Peacemaker is identifiable in many ways. He is challenged by nonbelievers and tested by feats of faith, and his followers must sacrifice to step onto the righteous path. Returning from death, he achieves what no man has done before, convincing the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Oneida people to set their weapons down and work together. On another level, it fills a gap in U.S.–history education, revealing how Benjamin Franklin was inspired by the Haudenosaunee League’s representative form of government. With a group of headwomen as advisers and a long house to represent the peoples’ dependence on one another, the League’s council fire burns bright as a symbol of democratic unity. Fadden (Akwesasne Mohawk) contributes dramatic paintings that bring to life this moment in pre-colonial history. With a useful bibliography, as well as a preface and author’s note that speak to the contemporary inspiration for the book, this story should be on all shelves.

A timely, must-read tale about overcoming divisions as a nation. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-937786-87-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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