Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sweet and Secret Fire

Bok Chitto is a river that divides Mississippi. Before the Trail of Tears or the Civil War, this river separated Indian land from slave land. If a slave crossed the river into the land of the Indian nation, he did not have to return to his plantation owner. As we are told, “that was the law.”

CROSSING BOK CHITTO by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. Cinco Puntos Press, 2006. Www.cincopuntos.com

Author Tim Tingle is a member of the Chocktaw Nation of Oklahoma. He is a renowned story teller and a collector of Chocktaw lore in his state. Illustrator Bridges is of Cherokee ancestry and is a well known award-winning ilustrator. This is her first book illustration.

In his author’s note, Tingle writes, “We are proud of who we are. We are determined that our way, shared by many of all races, a way of respect for others and the land we live on, will prevail.”

His story of the river crossing is documented in the way he calls, “the Indian way, told and retold and then passed on by uncles and grandmothers.” His printed and illustrated book (language and painting) is a new way to pass on Indian stories and “tells” both for the Indian and the non-Indian so they will realize the “sweet and secret fire that drives the Indian heart.”

What I liked: the interaction of the two groups. They are different in many ways, but alike in the way they respected and took care of each other, their fellow members of the human family. The art is as telling and characterizing as the words on each page.

Two artists have united in a solid effort. The story will resonate on several levels, for both young listeners, young readers, and parents who participate in the joy of reading with their kids.

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