August 11, 2016

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People by S. D. Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:41 am by suebe2

Ssitting bullitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People
by S. D. Nelson
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Sitting Bull grew up among the Hunkpapa people, one of several bands that the whites later named the Sioux.  He grew up on buffalo hunts and counting coup but he also grew up at a time when whites were pushing their way into Sioux territory.  Once they arrived, they never left.  It was the beginning of the end for the Sioux way of life.

That said, this isn’t a depressing book.  Nelson has written a biography of Sitting Bull, the only Sioux to lead all seven Lakota tribes.  He fought against Custer and was even credited by some with killing the soldier although the Lakota believed that he committed suicide rather than be taken in battle.

Nelson wrote this biography as if Sitting Bull is speaking to the reader.  Thus it is written in first person and tells about the Lakota way of life both on the plains and on the reservations.  It tells of Sitting Bulls time with Buffalo Bill Cody, whom he respected greatly, and his death at the hands of tribal police.

The book is designed to look like a series of ledger drawings.  Native Americans often drew on the paper found in ledger books, bound books of blank pages that merchants used to keep track of what they had sold.  Colorful horses galloped across the pages of lined ledger pages and the art work has a very distinct look.  This book has that same look.  In addition to Nelson’s drawings are a number of historic photographs.

I grew up hearing stories about Native American leaders long before diversity was something that many people talked about.  In spite of this, there was plenty of information in this book that I didn’t know although I did recognize many of the photographs.

Although the book looks like a picture book it is text dense and suitable for readers grades 4 through 6.  This is a must for those interested in US history and should be in the classroom library.



July 8, 2013

Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:51 am by suebe2

Crazy Horse’s Vision
by Joseph Bruchac,
illustrated by S.D. Nelson
Lee and Low Books

Crazy Horse wasn’t like those around him.  Other babies are born crying.  Crazy Horse watched the world around him.  Most Lakota have straight hair but he had curly hair so his parents called him Curly.

Curly might be smaller than the other boys but he was strong.  His friends followed him into the river to swim, across the plains on their horses and up the mountains to where the bald eagles nest.  When he was only 11, he gentled a wild horse that his father brought into the camp.  Curly rode this horse on his first buffalo hunt.

It might sound like Curly had a wonderful childhood but he lived in an area that was being crowded by Wasichu (white) settlers.  His people and the Wasichu lived such different lives that misunderstandings were inevitable and with the U.S. Army present, these miunderstandings ended badly for the Lakota.  After a brave killed a settler’s cow that was trampling the camp, the Army fired into the camp in spite of Lakota attempts to repay the settler.  Curly saw it all happen and left the camp on his horse to seek out a vision about how to help his people.

Because he went on this vision quest without the help and advice of his elders, his father didn’t want to hear about his vision.  It wasn’t until he became a better person, living to help those around him that his father asked what he had seen.  That was the day that he came to be known as Tashunka Witco, or Crazy Horse in English.

Crazy Horse led his people by giving generously and always being willing to take on tasks himself.  This isn’t a comprehensive biography, telling Crazy Horse’s story from birth until death but it is a touching story of how a young boy comes to be a leader.

Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.  He patterns his artistic style after the ledger drawings; this is especially obvious on the paintings used to decorate the end papers of this book.  You will know the style by the black line outlines and bright colors used to fill each space.

This isn’t a new book but it is a favorite of mine and still available in paperback.  I’m lucky to have a hard back library addition, purchased at a library sale.

This isn’t a suitable story for preschoolers, because of the killings committed by the Army but it provides older children with an example of someone who led not for his own benefit but to help his people.



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