Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hail The Enchanted Buffalo

Before November slips away, I want to call attention to it as Native American Heritage Month, a month designated to honor Native American history, culture, and traditions. This post shows what can happen when a publisher finds just the right illustrator for a story.

L. Frank Baum, best known for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a newspaper man in South Dakota in the late 1800's. He went on to write the Oz books and many other books for children, including the fairy tale The Enchanted Buffalo.

The South Dakota State Historical Press recently released The Enchanted Buffalo as part of its award-winning Prairie Tales series, illustrated by South Dakota artist Donald F. Montileaux. Montileaux's previous work for this publisher earned the book Tatanka and the Lakota People five awards.

Montileaux creates his illustrations to tell a story, using backgrounds similar to those his Lakota ancestors would have used--ledger books, hides, and rock walls. He names Oscar Howe and Herman Red Elk as his mentors. Montileaux's mission is to portray the Lakota honestly, as they lived their lives. In the case of The Enchanted Buffalo, he used Lakota symbols, colors, and designs to give the buffalo characters their personalities. Montileaux's art has earned him world recognition and many awards, and this book will likely add another.

Montileaux enjoys meeting lovers of art and story. He has two book signings scheduled for later this week in Rapid City. Look for him at Indian art markets, and he will likely tell--or show--you a story.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Give Thanks

(photo by woodleywonderworks

My grandmother and her friends spoke Danish when they got together, especially when they talked about me in front of me or talked about things they didn't think a pre-schooler should know. One day I asked Grandma to teach me some Danish words. "Tak," she said. "Thanks." And "Tak for kaffe." "Thanks for coffee." Thanks and coffee were two important concepts for Danish girls!

(photo by skype nomad

When my brother and I forgot to say "Please" or "Thank you," our parents reminded us by asking, "What are the magic words?" These words really do have a bit of magic about them. Saying thanks, letting others know we appreciate them "keeps the channel of love open," according to our pastor. (photo by The National Archives UK)

I recently joined some Facebook friends in 40 Days of Thankfulness, an exercise where we each posted one (or more) things we were thankful for that day. Others who did not participate commented that it inspired them and lightened their days. I am thankful for that!

During those 40 days, finding things to be thankful for was no problem--I am surrounded by family, friends, natural beauty, the arts, and all kinds of little things. Intentionally giving thanks gets me out of my rut of taking things and people for granted and makes me realize how wonderful life is.

This Thanksgiving season, TAK! I am thankful for you. I hope your life is full of wonderful things and people. What are you thankful for?

(photo by vistamommy

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thanks, Veterans!

Veteran's Day began in 1919 as Armistice Day, commemorating the day the fighting stopped in World War I. Though that was supposed to be "The War to End All Wars," many other soldiers have fought many other battles since. In 1954, Armistice Day became Veteran's Day, a day to remember and honor those who served and sacrificed for the United States.

Getting that idea across to children without glorifying war or causing fright is tricky, but several books strike the right tone. America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny, tells about a family who sets a special table for Veteran's Day with symbolic gifts that help them remember veterans. Eve Bunting's text and Ronald Himler's illustrations in The Wall depict a father's and son's visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they find the son's grandfather's name enscribed. These and three other books are mentioned at Anastasia Suen's "5 Great Books" blog.

Adults have many biographies, memoirs, and other non-fiction books from which to choose. One I recommend is a modern classic, The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, about Americans who served in World War II and went on to rebuild the world and regain America's prosperity. I may be partial to this one because my dad was of that generation. His reading this book when he was in his 80's opened the door for him to talk about his war years with us for the first time.

How will you commemorate Veteran's Day?