Tag Archive | Native Americans

Fossil-hunt feud & love – Every Hidden Thing, by Kenneth Oppel (book review)

book cover of Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the West, huge discoveries await!
Giant bones, tremendous deadly teeth,
and only one searcher can be the first to find them!

Early days of paleontology in America were more rough and tumble than scientifically sedate, and this two-voices tale of double-crosses, dangerous digging, and surprising love captures the race for fame and naming rights so well.

Read the first chapter here, courtesy of the publisher (I love when this free peek is offered!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to continue the search for bones…really big bones.

Ever fallen in love with ‘the enemy’ – according to your family and friends?

Book info: Every Hidden Thing / Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their fathers racing to uncover dinosaur fossils in the West, Rachel and Samuel seek their own prizes from the prehistoric world – she to be recognized as a scientist in her own right, he to find the first complete T. Rex skeleton – but treachery on Native American lands and their own fathers’ feud may bury their dreams.

It didn’t start with the fistfight between two learned paleontologists at the Academy, and it didn’t end there, because Rachel Cartland’s father had sneaked one fossil set from the New Jersey bog where Samuel Bolt’s father was digging, then denied Bolt a teaching post at Yale, then finally leapfrogged the Bolt team to the Badlands where Pawnee hunted and dinosaur bones waited to be found.

Bones sent to Mr. Bolt hint of the location of T. Rex at last – why is Prof. Cartland heading the same place with his army of helpers?

Despite warnings from his scout, Cartland and company vandalize a Sioux death memorial – does the professor care nothing for humans?

Both teams spy on the others – will this rivalry result in more injuries, damaged priceless specimens, death?

Told alternately by Samuel and Rachel, this tale of the adventurous early days of paleontology includes the discovery of unknown dinosaurs, legends come to life, and love amid the dust of the frontier.

Read American #ownstories – with your ears

Hurry to get this week’s pair of free audiobooks from SYNC to read with your ears for Independence Day and beyond!

Click the link following the title to download either or both these complete audiobooks before Wednesday night (5 July 2017), then listen to them whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney | Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.comAmerican Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose
(download here free through 5 July 2017)
by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney
Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

After studying so hard for his citizenship exam, Juan is visited by a parade of American historical figures in his dreams – live performance with large cast, music, and lots of pop culture references.


My Name is Not Easy
(download here free through 5 July 2017)CD cover of My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson | Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate
Published by Brilliance Audio

In a 1960s Alaskan boarding school where youth are forbidden to speak their Native languages and cross-cultural friendships are discouraged, five boys tell their own stories of loneliness and hope.

What tales of freedom do you recommend?

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Ancient One, by T.A. Barron (book review) – forest & livelihood both in peril

book cover of The Ancient One by T.A. Barron published by Puffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comA vanished people,
towering trees of mystery,
a chance to save the world…

Now out in paperback for its 25th anniversary, Merlin Saga author T.A. Barron’s tale of a young teen striving to complete a perilous quest even as she mourns her parents’ deaths is an adventure and a celebration of the interconnectedness of life, as it weaves together old secrets, ancient peoples, time travel, and an evil bent upon conquering the world.

When have you stood strong against wrong?

Book info: The Ancient One / T.A. Barron. Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback); Philomel Books, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video about book] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At her aunt’s Oregon home, grieving teen Kate helps Aunt Melanie try to stop out-of-work loggers from destroying a newly discovered redwood grove and is hurtled back in time to meet nature beings and Native peoples who are struggling to prevent an evil force from overtaking their world. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Opposite of Love, by Sarah Scheerger (book review) – goodbye letter, forever? help!

book cover of The Opposite of Love by Sarah Lynn Scheerger published by Albert WhitmanGone. Just… gone.
No forewarning, phone disconnected,
How can the love of your life disappear so completely?

Chase and Rose are very imperfect people, but they are so right together – until Rose vanishes, and her adoptive parents have no clue where she went.

The author provides an excerpt of this bittersweet story’s first chapter here for free. Check your local library or independent bookstore so you can read it all.

When you can’t keep the only thing keeping you sane in the face of abuse and indifference, what next?

Book info: The Opposite of Love / Sarah Lynn Scheerger. Albert Whitman, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Meeting through mutual friends, artistic Rose and kid-magnet Chase fall in love, but struggle to keep parents and their pasts from tearing apart their future together.

When Chase’s long-gone abusive dad demands visitation rights and Rose’s adoptive parents lock her in the house to keep the Native American teen out of trouble, the high school couple’s plans to leave behind their California town go up in smoke.

How will Rose locate her real mother now?
How can Chase protect his little sister when he’s away at Walter’s?
Why does Rose stop answering texts and calls from Chase and her friends?

Flashing back and forth between Chase’s frantic quest to Rose now before it’s too late and their earlier days of meeting, teasing, and learning to love, this story of choices and possible redemption follows two flawed people as they try to rewrite the dismal future that others predict for them.


Killer of Enemies, by Joseph Bruchac (book review) – mind, heart, death in future

book cover of Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac published by Tu BooksTechnology gone,
New monsters join the old,
Hungry for the people’s blood.

Read this desert-based dystopia for Lozen’s warrior woman spirit, her respectful killing skill, and her tenacious love for her family.

For a taste of  the dangers and monsters that Lozen faces inside and outside Haven, try chapters 17-19 for free here.

Then ask for Killer of Enemies  at your local library or independent bookstore now- you won’t want to miss it!


Book info:  Killer of Enemies / Joseph Bruchac. Tu Books, 2013. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lozen can sense the monsters on both sides of the compound’s walls and kill the mutants outside skillfully. But those holding her family hostage inside…can only be eliminated with a skill that the teen isn’t sure she has.

The land of Lozen’s Apache ancestors survived the Cloud from space which wiped out all technology, but so many people perished. The privileged Ones who survived meltdown of their implanted enhancements have holed up in secure places and gathered small armies, ‘recruiting’ those with blacksmithing or hunting skills to add to their power.

With her family held hostage in “Haven” Lozen must hunt the freakish Cloud-magnified animals who can batter down the former prison’s walls. The four Ones ruling Haven don’t know that the teen can sense the gen-mod monsters’ thoughts, as well as those of most humans.

Carefully-made plans for her family’s escape from the insanity of Haven may have to accelerate when the Ones declare her only friend is a traitor and plan to execute him.

Can she sway their decision without exposing her telepathic powers?
Can she get her family out of Haven before it’s too late?
Can a monster-killer save herself?

Weaving traditional Chiricahua beliefs with a new Stone Age power struggle, the Killer of Enemies  must remember her heritage while she strives to live long enough to have a future.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth (book review) – rez life, the Beatles, a new view

book cover of If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth published by Arthur A Levine BooksBand on the Run
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Live and Let Die”

Music takes Lewis out of his tumbling-down house on the Tuscarora Reservation in the mid-1970s, where water comes from the pump outside and the outhouse is horrible in summer, worse in winter. His first white friend shares his taste in music – life may be okay for a while in junior high, despite the bullies and prejudice.

As an Air Force brat myself, I understand how George must quickly make friends when his father is transferred to a new base and be ready to uproot and do it all again in a heartbeat.

Read this interview to see why the author drew his own versions of the album covers which Lewis and George listen to again and again. Every chapter is a 70s song title, reflecting Gansworth’s growing-up years on the reservation.

This is a “don’t miss” title on my 2013 list, so when you’re looking for it on the shelf, note that the book spine is same blue as the headphones, not orange like the cover.


Book info: If I Ever Get Out of Here / Eric Gansworth. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Junior high advanced classes aren’t a good place for a skinny reservation kid with glasses in the 1970s, but Lewis might just survive thanks to his first white friend and rock music.

Always moving with his Air Force dad, the new guy George makes friends fast and simply ignores the “welfare Indian” label that most kids give to Lewis. They both love the Beatles and Wacky Pack stickers, but Lewis won’t let George see his falling-down house on the reservation after visiting the Haddonfields’ tidy home on base.

When George’s dad finds out that Paul McCartney’s new band Wings is playing a concert in nearby Toronto, he promises to take both boys, despite difficulties with the tickets.

Lewis’s uncle reminds him that moving between the white world and the reservation will make his life harder, even as the town big-shot’s son decides to beat up Lewis daily in school despite all his efforts to stay clear.

Why won’t the teachers stop the bullying going on right under their noses?
How can Lewis repay the Haddonfields’ hospitality without inviting them to his house?

Music runs through this book about the power of friendship to change expectations about life, even when so much in Lewis’s life may never change for the better. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

W for Where the Broken Heart Still Beats, by Carolyn Meyer (book review) – captured by Indians, captured by family

book cover of Where the Broken Heart Still Beats by Carolyn Meyer published by HarcourtWho does the land belong to?
Who is closer – family of blood or family by adoption?
Who decides which child a mother must be separated from?

While kidnapping of settlers’ children and wives by Native Americans was not uncommon on the Western frontier, bringing any back to their white families certainly was. Of course, it didn’t matter to her uncle and his family that Naduah had no interest in them or their strange customs and uncomfortable shoes.

Reunited with her children after death, Cynthia Ann is now buried in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, beside her Comanche warrior son Quanah and young daughter Topsannah.

Author of many historical fiction books for young adults, Carolyn Meyer was inspired to write Cynthia Ann’s story when she moved to Texas in the early 1990s, as she notes in this interview. Recently reissued with new cover art, Where the Broken Heart Still Beats  is a timeless tale of love, family, and conflict.

Which do you prefer – historical fiction or factual biographies?

 local library  or independent bookstore

Book info:  Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: the Story of Cynthia Ann Parker (Great Episodes series) / Carolyn Meyer. Harcourt, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]

My recommendation: Kidnapped not once but twice, a young girl in frontier Texas becomes the mother of a great Comanche warrior, yet feels like a prisoner as she dies among her blood relatives, far from those she loves.

Captured from her uncle’s settlement by Comanche raiders who killed many of her relatives, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker soon adapted to life with the People, moving across the land as the seasons changed, growing into a strong young woman called Naduah who married chief Peta Nocona and bore him sons and a daughter.

Her Parker relatives never stopped searching for Cynthia Ann, as rumors of a light-eyed girl in the Comanche camps reached them through traders over the course of twenty-five years. But the elder chiefs would not accept any amount of trade goods for this hard-working daughter of the People, no matter what the white men asked.

Finally, the Parker men raided the Comanche camp when the warriors were hunting buffalo, almost shooting Naduah in their quest to remove the “Indian threat” from lands they wanted to settle. When they saw her light eyes, they realized this could be their long-gone cousin, and her startled response to the name ‘Sinty Ann’ showed they were right.

Now, Naduah and baby daughter Topsannah are securely within the Parker family compound, and her 12-year-old cousin Lucy tries to reawaken her memory of the English language and ‘civilized’ behavior. All Naduah wants is to return to her husband and sons, so she tries again and again to escape, but is always thwarted.

How long can her family keep her away from her family?
Who has rights to the land which has supported the Comanche for so long?
How long can a mother live without hearing her children’s voices?

Told in the alternating voices of cousin Lucy’s journal and Naduah’s reminiscences, this true episode from history captures the uneasy ebb and flow of relations between Native Americans and settlers in north Texas as the Lone Star State is on the brink of entering the Civil War.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Exposure, by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (fiction) – Predictions, fame, love, death

book cover of Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit Press
Competitive pals Duff and Duncan,
Three masks predict doom,
Bloodstain that will not wash away…
in an Alaskan high school instead of medieval Scotland.

Welcome to the second book in Askew and Helmes’ Twisted Lit series, definitely as brooding as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” which inspired it, as dark as the long winter nights in Skye’s hometown of Anchorage, as dangerous as Beth’s desperation to rise above her modest beginnings.

If you know the “Scottish play” well, some twists here will still surprise you; if not, you’ll find that the plotline is largely faithful to the original, so you will have a better chance of following all the action in the play when you read it yourself.

How far should ambition take us? How far is too far?

Book info: Exposure (Twisted Lit #2) / Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2013.  [Kim’s website]  [Amy’s website]   [publisher site]   [book series trailer]

My Recommendation: Skye would rather be home in Anchorage, but how could she stay after what Craig did? A boyfriend who killed someone…

The summer that he moved north for his dad’s job, cute sophomore Craig hung out with Skye, but once school started, he was rapidly drawn into the popular clique. Skye would much rather hide out in the art room than listen to Beth and her posse giggle and posture. Just one more year, then she can get out of here…

As photographer for the school paper, Skye at least gets to see Craig through her telephoto lens at hockey games. The team was lucky that he’d turned out to be a great power forward since their star player Duff had suddenly gone to Scotland as an exchange student. Rumor has it that former girlfriend Beth had something to do with that, but now she’s all over Craig.

Skye wishes that everything were as easy as developing film (yes, she’s old school about that). Then she could un-separate her parents, un-commit to going to prom with dorky Lenny, un-hear the eerie predictions coming out of the Native Yu’Pik masks worn by her three best pals for their art project.

She told Craig that the party in the woods would only be a drunkfest, but came along anyway just to make his social-climber girlfriend mad. When flashlight tag in the snow begins, Skye retreats to the jeep, never dreaming that she’d overhear Beth telling him they’d keep it all a secret, never imagining that hockey player Duncan would be found dead beside the half-frozen creek the next day or that the police would still be investigating weeks later.

Life sort of goes on at school after Duncan’s death, with the crush of college applications, protests against chopping down its 200-year-old courtyard tree, the Running of the Reindeer and other efforts to keep the long Arctic winter at bay. Beth is sure that she and Craig will be Prom King and Queen, despite her increasingly bizarre behavior.

How can Skye go away to college if Mom and Dad really do split up? Money was tight before they separated…
What’s the secret that Beth and Craig are keeping? It seems to be eating away at them…
Are the answers in Skye’s huge collection of senior year photos? Those eerie predictions might be right…

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth under the Northern Lights, this sinister tale uses quotations from “the Scottish play” as its chapter headings in Askew and Helmes’ second book of the Twisted Lit series.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.