Good New Books About Today’s Native Americans – Part 2
How I Became a Ghost
How I Became a Ghost, a Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle
From Chapter 1, “Talking Ghost”
“MAYBE YOU HAVE never read a book written by a ghost before. I am a ghost…I should tell you something else. I see things before they happen. You are probably thinking, ‘I wish I could see things before they happen.’
Be careful what you wish for.”
Author Tim Tingle is a masterful storyteller on stage or in a book with the written word. With this newest book, I warn you that you might have the same experience I did. You begin the first chapter, intending to read for a little while, but you can’t stop. One surprise happens on the heels of another. To create How I Became a Ghost, Tim Tingle re-walked the steps of his great-great-grandfather, recorded the stories of tribal elders, and then wrote this incredible page-turner for young readers (and adults as well). Yes, this book is about the Choctaw Trail of Tears but no, it will not leave you sad or depressed, instead, you will be amazed at the strength of community and the courage and of many individuals – even a talking dog!
Once you read one of Tingle’s books, you will want to read more. I encourage you to look at Crossing Bok Chitto, praised by Publishers Weekly as “…a moving and wholly original story about the intersection of cultures.” One more suggestion: Spirits Dark and Light which was given this description: “Tingle is a master storyteller, his flow and timing are superb. Young readers will feel like he’s talking directly to them,” by American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Buffalo Bird Girl
Buffalo Bird Girl, written and illustrated by S.D. Nelson, is a very different book, but one filled with images and information that give a rich account of the daily life of the Hidatsa people of the Dakotas. The actual words and stories once told by Buffalo Bird Girl are illustrated with archival photographs, maps, drawings, and the brilliant, startling images painted by S. D. Nelson.
These two books offer two very different stories, two Native perspectives, of American history told in engaging voices and accessible formats. What an opportunity to discuss with young readers the impact of “western expansion” on these two tribal nations.