Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation Okla.) Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal
Without exaggerating, I can say that this is one of the very best picture books I have ever read. Fry Bread tells a story that spans Native America and does not leave anyone out in the process. That fry bread recipes change from one family or nation to the next is emphasized. The recipe in the book is not the only one out there. Then, there’s the people in the book themselves. All colors are represented here. As I sat reading this book, I held back tears. I don’t know that I have ever seen a book show that Natives this way. I am from a tiny rancheria in California. My small nation of 500ish does not get mentioned very often, but there we were on the inside cover. The effort that went into representing as many nations as possible is not lost on me and even writing about the book now, I find myself getting emotional.
Finally, the authors note. Picture books can easily be seen as places where it is difficult to include all the information about an event or topic. Just look at any picture book about Thanksgiving, they don’t go into what happened in the years to follow. That Natives were hunted or torn from their cultures, that Native children in the US had zero protection from being taken from their families until 1978 and even then the Indian Child Welfare Act was not given truly specific rules until 2016. No, children and adults alike are continually fed the story of the happy Natives helping pilgrims (colonizers). We’re continually shown as objects of the past. Not relevant to contemporary society. Not in Fry Bread. Here, the authors note tells the stories (with citations!) that go along with each of the pages. The themes that we are still here, that fry bread was born of necessity, and that our history and present are complicated things, is made available to the reader. The young children may not be able to comprehend the authors note, but the parents, educators and librarians that share this book will.
I’ve been working at the library for a month now and it continues to feel great to be working in a library. This is what I have wanted to do for a long time. Even if I’m exhausted, I don’t ever dread coming to work. It is a bit of a drive for me, but that just means I get to catch up on podcasts. I have also been sharing my project on Indigenous representation. I get better at it every time. Most recently, I presented it for the Schertz, Texas Historical Preservation Committee. They were a wonderful audience and I had the pleasure of sharing the information with some high schoolers who were there as well. I had not even thought to reach out to high schools with this, but now I will. Also! I’m going to be giving the presentation at the Texas Library Association 2020 annual conference. I’m super excited about the opportunity. I hope that I’ll get the chance to share this info with even more people in the future. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get some more reading time in the next few days, cause I have a bunch to catch up on. I still have Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s, Apple in the Middle and I Can Make This Promise, and those are just the library books! I don’t even want to think about my stack of unopened switch games from the past couple months. That’s all for now! Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with more reviews, but who knows honestly.
My Library: https://rikikikitaco.libib.com
Currently Reading: I Can Make this Promise by Christine Day (Upper Skagit)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Currently Playing: Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild/Switch