Archive for October, 2013

A very Ghost Hawk Thanksgiving…

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

I finished reading Ghost Hawk this fall, and now I’m seeing a fair amount of conversation about the historical accuracy issues surrounding the book, as we head into Newbery season. (I’ll admit, I thought it was wonderful until the very end, though I’m woefully incapable of determining how true to history it is).

At the same time, I’m wandering around the stores, and seeing that there are beginning to be “Indian” items around, in advance of Thanksgiving. Feathers and teepees.  I find myself assuming, based on the comments surrounding Ghost Hawk, that the way schools approach Thanksgiving has changed a lot since I was a kid.  That they no longer dress up in loosely arranged feathers and play out the story of “Pilgrims and Indians.”  I’m wondering what they offer instead. How much of the story?

So as we head into the Thanksgiving season, I’m thinking about how we educate our kids (or don’t), how we give them (or don’t) actual information, as opposed to myth. I’m thinking I have some work to do myself.

All my life, I’ve known versions of the Pilgrim/Indian story, of course.  I’ve watched the Peanuts and Pocahantas.  I’ve argued the merits of telling that story in a benign way with kids, and I’ve argued the age at which kids can learn the real story.  But shamefully, in all those years, I’ve never learned about the TRIBE. The actual tribe.  How is that possible?  At the very least, Ghost Hawk pushed me out of that complacency.  And the conversation surrounding the book is having an even stronger impact on me in that way.

They weren’t “Indians.”  And “Native Americans” doesn’t cut it either in this day and age.  They were The Wampanoag.   And while I’m aware that they didn’t actually share a turkey with “us” (says this Irishy/Jewishy girl with no Mayflower blood in her at all, but who was still somehow taught the language of us/them),  I know absolutely nothing about The Wampanoag.

I think, this year, Mose and Lew will try to learn about the tribe.  Which is not to say “Indians.”  We’ll read about their culture and language, about Massoit and Squanto, and about King Philip’s War. (please, if you have sources you especially like, let me know!)  I hope this will help the boys navigate the myth/truth of this season (and me too!).  So often, specificity helps us see people as people. Because the more general we get, the easier it is to slip into stereotypes купить деревянный стол.

What does your school teach in this season? How much do you know about the Wampanoag?

(Ahem. Full disclosure: for the record, we’ll still be eating turkey at my house, with stuffing and mashed. Because… you know, TURKEY DINNER.)



To rhyme or not to rhyme…

Sunday, October 6th, 2013


So… I’m scribbling a ton of new picture books. Most of them won’t work out.

One or two might.

But as I’m working, I’m flip-flopping about tone, and I wondered if you might chime in and vote.


Conventional wisdom is that editors hate rhyming manuscripts. I have not found this to actually be true, but in a lot of cases, rhyme distracts from a book, or undercuts humor. And of course, if it’s done poorly, rhyme is horrible.


if you had a choice between these two bits of text, which would you prefer?

On velvet paws he slunk downstairs
And much against her wishes,
Jim gobbled up his mother dear.
She really was delicious!


Jim went downstairs.
And ate his mother up, in three quick bites.

Please leave your vote in the comments! I really would love to know how people feel about this.