"My father gave me free run of his library. When I think of my boyhood, I think in terms of the books I read."

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Undefeated.Non-fiction - Sports

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin (796.3326 She)

Jim Thorpe, the early 20th c. all-American football hero, has been the standard biographical default for Native Americans when designing multicultural lessons. In 2006 another Native American and children’s author Joseph Bruchac [1] wrote an accessible biography geared toward middle school readers.

Even earlier, children’s writer of many famed historical non-fiction titles, Russell Freedman, co-wrote Children of the Wild West [2] which documents the background and treatment of Native Americans and the brutally forced adaptations of their youth to Western lifestyles.

Where this new title, by this award-winning author and early guest McLeish Lecturer for our Lower School students, breaks ground is with the blending of the socio-cultural setting alongside the biography and rise to fame of Jim Thorpe. A fuller picture of history and this figure’s development of his miraculous talent is central. For sports historians, regardless of age, the tales of Pop Warner especially his role at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, are invaluable, as his legacy remains alive and vibrant today. In fact, this librarian would venture to say that Pop Warner’s life and impact deserve a book itself!

There is no doubt everyone will learn something effortlessly due to the engaging writing style and dogged research with use of innumerable primary documents that our students have come to love and appreciate from this author.

Recommended for all ages, young and old alike.

[1] Bruchac, Joseph. Jim Thorpe, Original All-American. Penguin Group, 2006. Print.

[2] Freedman, Russell, and George Buctel. Children of the Wild West. Clarion Books, 1983. Print.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

News of the World. Historical Fiction

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (F Jil) 
[available in ebook only]
In 1890 Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a lover of print and reader of news from far and wide travels throughout the South stopping at sparsely populated towns to read “news of the world” for many a dime. During one of his readings, he agrees to take a 10 year-old white girl, who had been kidnapped and raised from an early age by the Kiowa tribe, 400 miles in a wagon across dangerous territory and return her “home.” At age 70 he is no stranger to sensing danger, as he served during two major U.S. wars, yet he warily accepts. For payment.

The story is the relationship that develops between these two strangers set against the backdrop of the oftentimes harrowing Red River, threatening mercenaries, and raised hackles by the presence of U.S. Cavalry during this pilgrimage to San Antonio. This reads effortlessly as the narrative balances between history and fiction. A 2016 National Book Award Finalist, any reader will benefit from immersion into this sometimes funny, tender, and always riveting novel. [N.B. This review is adapted from my blog, Librarian Alone.]

Highly recommended for Forms I & II and STA parents and families.

For those who prefer non-fiction on this topic in American History, I suggest reading from our collection  Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier by Scott Zesch.

While similar in setting - Texas - and ancestors - German settlers, the tribes differ along with the outcome regarding "readjudment" to white society.