GPL Blog

From the Children’s Room — November 2021

November is Native American Heritage Month. Galesburg Public Library is celebrating by featuring displays of books in both the adult section and here in the Children’s Room. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite children’s books by Indigenous authors and illustrators, including a brand new collection of spooky stories. 

We’ve got lots more to recommend, so be sure to ask a librarian for suggestions! Did you know that you can also access our dozens of genre lists online? Just head over to our Readers Advisory page! There you can find our “Native Stories by Native Writers” and “Native American Voices, Native American Lives” lists, among many others.

BOWWOW POWWOW by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe), illsutrated by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Obibwe), and translated into Objibwe by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation)

Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself–about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything.

When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers in their jingle dresses and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle’s stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers–all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow.

This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder’s vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.

Children’s, Picture Books

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS by Carole Lindstrom (tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and of the Kiks.ádi Clan (Raven/Frog) from Sheet’ká)

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.

Water is the first medicine.

It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth

And poison her people’s water, one young water protector

Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.

Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal

Children’s, Picture Books

SWIFT FOX ALL ALONG by Rebecca Lee Thomas, who is a Mi’kmaw woman registered with Lennox Island First Nation, and illustrated by Maya McKibbin, who is a Two-Spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme, and Irish filmmaker, illustrator, and storyteller

What does it mean to be Mi’kmaq? And if Swift Fox can’t find the answer, will she ever feel like part of her family?

When Swift Fox’s father picks her up to go visit her aunties, uncles, and cousins, her belly is already full of butterflies. And when he tells her that today is the day that she’ll learn how to be Mi’kmaq, the butterflies grow even bigger. Though her father reassures her that Mi’kmaq is who she is from her eyes to her toes, Swift Fox doesn’t understand what that means. Her family welcomes her with smiles and hugs, but when it’s time to smudge and everyone else knows how, Swift Fox feels even more like she doesn’t belong.

Then she meets her cousin Sully and realizes that she’s not the only one who’s unsure-and she may even be the one to teach him something about what being Mi’kmaq means. Based on the author’s own experience, with striking illustrations by Maya McKibbin, A Long Way to a New Place is a poignant story about identity and belonging that is at once personal and universally resonant.

Children’s, Picture Books

MAY WE HAVE ENOUGH TO SHARE by Richard Van Camp, who is a Dogrib Tłı̨chǫ writer of the Dene nation and illustrated with photos taken by Indigenous women from the blog tea&bannock

Award-winning author Richard Van Camp wrote this book to express his gratitude for all that surrounds him and his family.

The strength of their connections, the nature that provides for them, the love that is endless. Complemented by photos from photographers who celebrate their own gratefulness on the collective blog Tea & Bannock, the simple verse in May We Have Enough to Share is the perfect way to start or end your little one’s days in gratitude.

Children’s, Picture Books

THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE by Louise Erdrich (enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians)

“[In this] story of a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847, Louise Erdrich is reversing the narrative perspective used in most children’s stories about nineteenth-century Native Americans. Instead of looking out at ‘them’ as dangers or curiosities, Erdrich, drawing on her family’s history, wants to tell about ‘us’, from the inside. The Birchbark House establishes its own ground, in the vicinity of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House’ books.” — The New York Times Book Review

Children’s, Middle Grade

LIVING GHOSTS AND MISCHIEVOUS MONSTERS: CHILLING AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES by Dan SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca Nation) and illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva)

Perfect for fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! A shiver-inducing collection of short stories to read under the covers, from a breadth of American Indian nations.

Dark figures in the night. An owl’s cry on the wind. Monsters watching from the edge of the wood.

Some of the creatures in these pages might only have a message for you, but some are the stuff of nightmares. These thirty-two short stories — from tales passed down for generations to accounts that could have happened yesterday — are collected from the thriving tradition of ghost stories from American Indian cultures across North America. Prepare for stories of witches and walking dolls, hungry skeletons, La Llorona and Deer Woman, and other supernatural beings ready to chill you to the bone.

Children’s, Middle Grade

All book descriptions are courtesy of the publisher. Additional author and illustrator information provided by their personal websites, publishers, Wikipedia, and the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog.

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