Eagle Song


Image Credit: Puffin Books (Penguin Group), Joseph Bruchac/Dan Andreasen

Okay! To close out Native American Heritage Month, my last pick is Eagle Song. Did you that Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people, especially Mohawk, built New York City? They have a long history of iron working in the city and many Native families moved down to the Big Apple to make a new life. The transition from traditional communities/reservations to the cold, concrete life of the big city can be a hard for Native peoples and in this book, Danny Bigtree experiences this struggle.

Danny has trouble adjusting to his new life in Brooklyn and it doesn’t help that his peers bully him for being Indian and different. He misses his green home of Akwesasne. His dad travels around the country doing iron work, leaving him alone with his mom and his frustrations. His father comes home from Boston and tells him the story of the Peacemaker and this story gives him strength, especially when he tells it to his son’s class; teaching cultural awareness and respect. Danny keeps his strong father’s words of peace with him as he faces his bully, Tyrone and he slowly becomes stronger and more confident in his new home in the city.

Change is never easy and in Eagle Song, Danny Bigtree has a lot of challenges to overcome. This story isn’t very long but it packs a punch and teaches several lessons. Dan Andraesen’s pencil illustrations bring the story to life, especially the loving scenes between Danny and his parents. I love how Bruchac (Abenaki) weaves in Mohawk words and culture into the story. Eagle Song is a short and easy to read chapter book that touches on a lot of important issues for young children like friendship, loneliness, change, bullying and respect.

For more information about Mohawk Ironworkers, check out these great resources:

To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey– Documentary by Reaghan Tarbell

Mohawk Council of Awkesasne- Ratiristakehron: Mohawk Ironworkers

Sky Walking: Raising Steel, A Mohawk Ironworker Keeps Tradition Alive

Booming Out-Mohawk Iron Workers Build New York City– Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Exhibit

Recommended for: Ages 7-8 and up
Great for: Family, Discussion, Native American Heritage Month, Iroquois, Bullying, Cultural Diversity, We Need Diverse Books
Book Info: Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac, 1997 Puffin Books (Penguin Group), ISBN: 9780688009144



So Much

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Trish Cooke/Helen Oxenbury

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Trish Cooke/Helen Oxenbury

My mother found this book for me at a thrift store and I’m so grateful she did! Trish Cooke is Afro-Caribbean from the UK and not only does the book show a loving family of color but she uses Afro-Caribbean English to write the story. I also really like her book Full, Full, Full of Love. The beginning of So Much has a nice rhythm that’s great for little ones to follow. Another thing I love about this book is that it’s illustrated by the great Helen Oxenbury.  Oxenbury and Cooke create a lovable story about a little baby and his family that loves him SO MUCH.

So Much begin with the baby sitting with his mom, simply enjoying the day, then the doorbell rings and another member of the family arrives. Each time someone new comes, they say they want to squeeze the baby, kiss the baby, so much! The father comes home tired from work to a house full of love.  There are some negative reviews online for this book’s “bad grammar.” I don’t think those reviewers took the time to research the author’s background or simply didn’t care. I love the addition of Afro-Caribbean English because 1). It is different and 2). Cooke is sharing her culture with her readers.

Oxenbury’s gouache illustrations are lovely; her paintings depict movement and joy and love. I especially love the pages where the family is crowded together, dancing and having a good time because it reminds me of my family. I also love how 90s the illustrations are; there are lots of sneakers, baggy shirts, caps and funky prints (This book was first printed in 1994!). In the author/illustrator notes at the back of the book, Oxenbury says that this book was the first time she had to illustrate only humans (none of her signature animals at all) and that it was a challenge. I think she did an excellent job and if you look closely, the baby’s teddy bear has great expressions! I think you will enjoy this book so much!

Recommended for: Toddlers and up
Great for: Family, Diversity, Cultural Diversity,
Book Info: So Much by Trish Cooke/Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, 1997 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763602963
*Note– This book is possibly out of print. If you can’t find it at a bookstore, check at your local library, used bookstores and online.