31 December 2019

Books Completed Since December 1

book icon  Light of the World, Amy Jill Levine

book icon  Re-read: Santa Claus: Last of the Wild Men, Phyllis Siefker

book icon  A Lakes Christmas, compiled by Sheila Richardson

book icon  The Case of the Missing Auntie, Michael Hutchinson
I admit, I still watch cartoons if they're good cartoons. And earlier this year PBS debuted a dynamite new series, Molly of Denali, about a Native Alaskan girl and her family and friends. The series opened with a sobering story called "Grandpa's Drum," about Molly's Grandpa Nat, who hasn't sung with the tribe since his childhood, and what happens when Molly finds out why. This entry in "the Mighty Muskrats" series travels similar ground.

This, the second in a new series by Hutchinson, who is a member of the Cree community, revolves around four children, Samuel, Chickadee, Atin, and Otter, cousins who call themselves "the Mighty Muskrats," who live at the Windy Lake reservation. Chickadee's grandfather admits to her that his younger sister Charlotte was taken away from his family in the late 1950s in what they called "scoops"—native children who were adopted (mostly to act as servants) for white people. Now with the Muskrats heading into the big city to go to an exhibition fair, a disturbed Chickadee thinks their first mission should be to try to track down their missing aunt, but the boys are full of anticipation about visiting cousins, going to the fair, and Otter just wants to see his favorite Native band perform.

No sooner are the kids at the much vaunted mall in the crowded, confusing city that they run into Brett, a boy who used to live on the "rez" and who Chickadee secretly had a crush on., and things start to go a little haywire. But Chickadee is still determined, no matter what, to find missing Auntie Charlotte.

This reads like an old-fashioned kids' adventure—the covers even look like a Happy Hollisters book—with modern sensibilities (internet, cell phones, etc.), real-life problems (Native people still coping with terrible laws once enacted by white settlers), and the problems of a usually-overlooked culture. The kids meet good and bad people of all cultures, cope with bureaucracy, find out some hard truths about their past, but also that they can help overcome it.

Maybe because I didn't read the first book the kids don't seem to be as individually fleshed out as I'd like, except for Chickadee (I still don't think I know how old each of them are, except that Atin is the eldest). Otherwise I found this really enjoyable, and a great way to introduce non-Native children to one aspect of Native culture. (The story is set in Canada, but the "residential homes" mentioned were just like the "Indian schools" like that in Carlisle, PA, which ended up with such an evil reputation, and for good reason.)

book icon  A Christmas Party, Georgette Heyer

book icon  The Book of Christmas Folklore, Tristram P. Coffin

book icon  Bells, Spells, and Murder, Carol J. Perry

book icon  Re-read: Merry Midwinter, Gillian Monks

book icon  A Fenland Christmas, compiled by Chris Carling

book icon  Re-read: The Story of Holly and Ivy, Rumer Godden

book icon  Re-read: Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot, Frances Frost

book icon  Re-read: The Tuckers: The Cottage Holiday, Jo Mendel

book icon  Re-read: Dear America: Christmas After All, Kathryn Lasky

book icon  Carols From King's, Alexandra Coghlan

book icon  Ideals Christmas, from the Ideals Publication

book icon  Re-read: A Little House Christmas Treasury, Laura Ingalls Wilder with colorized illustrations by Garth Williams

book icon  Re-read: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson

book icon  Re-read: The House Without a Christmas Tree, Gail Rock

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