November is Native American Heritage Month and to kick off the month right, I’m paying homage to a place that’s special to me. I attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and the campus sits on Cayuga land. The Cayuga are one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). I learned a lot from Haudenosaunee people and I love their land (it is gorges up there). So the first book I’ll review to celebrate this month is an AMAZING new picture book called Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson and illustrated by David Shannon.
This book tells the story of how the warring nations of the Haudnosaunee came together in peace. Hiawatha is a sad man with anger in his heart because the evil Onondaga Chief Tadadaho killed his wife and children; he is hell-bent on revenge. One day, a man called the Peacemaker comes and tells Hiawatha that he needs him to carry his message of Peace, Power and Righteousness to all the nations. Hiawatha has to look inside himself to realize the power of forgiveness.
This story will be familiar to some readers and brand new to most but what shines about this book is not only its powerful message, but that it’s by a Native American author (Robertson is Mohawk and Cayuga) and Shannon’s oil paintings are beautiful. There are many books about Native peoples by non-Native authors; some are well researched and are respectful but many are not. Robertson tells his people’s story and that in and of itself gives power to this book. David Shannon worked with Robertson to create bold illustrations that carry the power of the story. They are so very strong. This book will appeal to artists, lovers of Native Studies and history, and any child or adult who craves a great story.
Recommended for: All ages, especially 4th grade and up
Great for: History, Native American Heritage Month, Cultural Diversity, Discussion, We Need Diverse Books
Book Info: Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson/Illustrated by David Shannon, 2015 Abrams, ISBN: 9781419712203