In The Footsteps of Crazy Horse - Joseph Marshall III, with illustrations by Jim Yellowhawk
All my life I’ve heard the stories of Crazy Horse and especially the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and usually it was from a sorrowful perspective of the loss of General Custer and his men. This time, Joseph Marshall has written a wonderful book for middle grade readers from the perspective of Native Americans, particularly Tasunke Witko, known as Crazy Horse. Jimmy McClean, a Lakota boy, although his name does not show it, is being teased at school because his name doesn’t seem to mean he’s Native Lakota, and because he has light hair. His thoughtful grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, takes him on a summer trip to learn about Crazy Horse, and the heritage Jimmy can be proud of. Marshall uses oral stories from the Lakotas to tell this story as Jimmy and his grandfather visit important parts of Crazy Horse’s life all the way to the heart-breaking surrender. Jimmy gains perspective about the sadness of loss on both sides, but pride in the way Crazy Horse led his people, in his courage in war and in thinking of his people. Each chapter’s heading is a lovely painting by Jim Yellowhawk, and there is a glossary and bibliography. A map at the beginning of the story helps the reader trace the paths of Crazy Horse. Children reading this will enjoy the journey, and learn that history should be approached from all points of view.
I’m catching up on books that came out last year that others loved and I never read, and also managed to read one more from 2016, Saline Yoon’s terrific Be A Friend, newly arrived, and one that could be paired beautifully with Stick and Stone. And, I just realized that a theme of each of these picture books is kindness, doing the right thing, even when it's hard.
Mango, Abuela, and Me - Meg Medina, with illustrations by Angela Dominguez
Mia’s abuela is coming to live with her family, and share her room! She lives too far away and needs to move from a home that’s just too much to care for. Mia’s shy, and the biggest challenge is that she doesn’t speak enough Spanish, and her grandmother doesn’t speak enough English for them to communicate well. However, as the days go by, and each learn new words, they get to share more. They walk to feed the birds, also “feeding words” to each other, and the same happens when they cook together. When Mia and her Mami have to go into town to purchase food for Mia’s hamster, they see a parrot in the window of a pet store, and Mango comes home to Abuela. Teaching Mango both Spanish and English makes a happy ending for everyone. Mia and her Abuela can talk and read together, and going to sleep means “Good Night” from Abuela and “Hasta Mañana” from Mia. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text as Mia learns as much as her abuela. The brilliantly colored illustrations show the story’s warmth so well.
Be A Friend - Salina Yoon
Sometimes when one is happy with who they are, but then find they’re also lonely, it’s a problem. This little boy, Dennis has such a problem. He loves being a mime, feels comfortable with who he is, but others seem to play “around” him, ignore him, until he meets Joy, someone who understands, and becomes his friend. When someone shows that friendship can happen, the way is led for others to become part of that friendship, too. There are fun end papers that show Dennis in many of his “mime” poses. The illustrations show Salina Yoon's ability to keep it simple, but show so much with a few actions and characters.
The Sock Thief - Ana Crespo with pictures by Nana Gonzalez
Felipe walks a long way to school, all the time taking socks from clothes lines or window sills, but leaving a mango as payment. It’s a surprise when he begins curling them inside each other to make a ball! Happy colorful pictures by Nana Conzalez, and lots of soccer play at school makes this a delightful story; Felipe’s soccer ball works wonderfully. Add to that the fun of learning Portuguese words included in the story, and the ending when Felipe, smiling, returns the socks with a note of thanks. I enjoyed the book very much. There is a letter from the author at the back telling about many children doing this because soccer balls were too expensive. She shares that Pele, the famous soccer player, also started with a “sock” soccer ball.
Stick and Stone - Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
This rhyming picture book is a simple tale of two different creatures, Stick and Stone who find each other as good friends, defend each other, from a pinecone bully, and “stick” to each other through thick and thin. They indeed are best friends forever. Even Pinecone comes around to become a little nicer. The illustrations are so full of emotion that one can imagine a stick and a stone talking and exploring, all together. And the text cleverly keeps the rhythm going of a tale that’s both funny and poignant.
Next: I'm starting Quiet by Susan Cain for next month's book club, just finishing all the Cybils' finalists, and will read the new BuzzBooks2016 from NetGalley, to see what new book I might want to read.
Have a wonderful reading week!