Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Be Inspired . . . Lead The Way

Whether we are initially aware, we go through life with the assistance of mentors.  We use all our senses, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell, to guide us.  Sometimes assistance comes when we least expect it.  The teacher may not even be able to speak in human language.

We look to those who have walked the path before us seeking direction.  Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes (Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, September 11, 2018) written by Wab Kinew with illustrations by Joe Morse is a beautiful, informative depiction of inspirational people. 

There's a power in these lands,
one that's been here many years,
strong enough to make you stand
and forget all of your fears.

Sacagawea, a leader and healer of men, is the first to be honored.  Running behind her is Jim Thorpe heeding the words of his father.  She never stopped pursuing a desire to help.  She worked and worked until she earned her medical degree. (She was at the top of her class.)  Her name was Sue LaFlesche Picotte.

An author reveals a traumatic childhood and enlightens others about flaws in institutional systems.  A solider fights overseas with honor and distinction; returning home as a champion for his people.  In a remarkable feat a woman carries sweat rocks and survives a forced walk of hundreds of miles.  She does so to preserve a sacred tradition.

Can you be a physician and an actor?  Look to Dr. Evan Adams for encouragement.  You can be an astronaut who writes a book in both English and Chickasaw about your experiences, a hockey player who helps a team win Olympic Winter Games' gold or a stabbing survivor who becomes a water polo team captain in the Olympics.  The choice is yours.

Read and follow the words of leaders from the past like Tecumseh, Crazy Horse and Net-no-kwa.  Stay on the right road but if you stray, make a correction and change direction.  Remember from where you come and go forward with those in the past and present helping you navigate your future.

Whether you read the words penned by Wab Kinew silently or aloud, you find your breathing and heartbeat adjusting to the cadence of his phrases.  He uses rhyming words to excellent effect weaving facts about each of the notable men and women into his narrative.  His blend of the past and present reminds readers of intricate connections.  Joining each portion with a three-line lyrical refrain heightens the melodic quality.  Here is a passage.

Under starry nights west Sacagawea led
Lewis and Clark, so America could spread.

Plus she healed them when they were almost dead.
The men got the credit, but should she have instead?

When you open the matching dust jacket and book case, the single image is powerful.  The person on the front with their left arm extended and palm facing up is mirroring this pose on the other side of the spine with their right arm.  Rather than a shoreline, lake and large rocky outcrop with evergreens during daylight, the setting changes.  To the left, on the back, a river passing through a mountainous passage extends from the shore.  A spiral of clouds, which we see as white on the front, are hues of blue.  They frame a crescent moon.  The red of the title text is varnished.

The opening and closing endpapers are a slightly darker shade of the sun seen on the front of the jacket and case.  A ceremonial feather is placed between text on the title page.  The illustrations are rendered in

watercolor and digital color and collage

by Joe Morse.

Each page turn reveals a stunning portrait of the featured hero/heroine.  These portraits may bring us close to the person or present them within a larger landscape.  Readers are immediately drawn to the faces full of strength, perseverance and dignity.  Our eyes than move to the authenticity of the clothing and the physical and geographical locations.  These places and the elements in each are meticulously chosen to properly reflect each individual and the story of their lives.

At one point, a pause shows us several people from the past stand among trees as finely-etched shadows while present-day people look forward.  We also see three people tied together in a lovely single, double-page picture.  The last two illustrations are highly pertinent to our present times; the first showing Indigenous peoples peacefully protesting for the protection of water.  In the second, final picture, three older children raise their faces skyward at night.  They glow from the northern lights.  Lights shine from the windows of nearby homes.  An elder and smaller child are also present.  Joy.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is the one for Te-Wau-Zee.  During the Trail of Tears, the people were only allowed to take what they could carry.  She has four large stones hidden in her clothing.  She is placed on the left, lines of resolution on her face.  Across the top of the page a line of people loop and wind for miles in the distance, walking from their homes.  For those closest to Te-Wau-Zee moving from left to right, their shadows are different then their appearance.  The shadows are warriors.

This book, Go Show The World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes written by Wab Kinew with pictures by Joe Morse, is an uplifting and moving representation.  Reading this title will leave you changed.  This is a collection of remarkable people.  At the close of the book in an author's note, Wab Kinew talks about the idea behind this title and his hopes for those of us who read it.  For each of the showcased people Joe Morse has painted a black and white picture to accompany a short biographical paragraph at the end.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Wab Kinew and Joe Morse and their other work, please follow this links attached to their names to access their websites.  Both Wab Kinew and Joe Morse maintain accounts on Twitter.  You can find Wab Kinew and Joe Morse on Facebook.  At Tundra Books there is a post about this title as a Governor General's Literacy Awards Finalist and a six page discussion guide.  You can view interior images at Penguin Random House.  This book is featured at Thin Air Winnipeg, a wonderful podcast on thecommentary.ca with Wab Kinew, the Sheridan Sun highlighting Joe Morse and his process and research and NationTalk.

Be sure to take a few moments to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the titles selected this week by others participating in the 2019 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

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