Elan, Son of Two Peoples by Heidi Smith Hyde
Illustrated by Mikela Prevost
Publication date: 1 March 2014 by Kar-Ben Publishing
ISBN 10/13: 0761390529 | 9780761390527
Category: Children's Non-fiction Picture Book
Keywords: Non-fiction, historical, cultural, Jewish, Native American
Format: Hardcover, Paperback
Source: ARC from publisher
Really lovely artwork by Mikela Prevost! Based on a true story about the son of a Jewish adventurer, Solomon Bibo, who married an Acoma woman and raised children who were both Jewish and Pueblo Indian. The story as told by Heidi Smith Hyde draws parallels between the Jewish Bar Mitzvah and the ceremony where the main character, Elan, becomes an Acoma tribesman. The text is informative and well-structured, and the story elements really shine as relatable and engaging when paired with the unusual premise.
However, it's the artwork that really elevates this non-fiction picture book. With a smattering of watercolor, mostly textured acrylic and found paper collage, the illustrator brings the tale to life. Even with the muted color palette--lots of earth tones as they travel through the hard-angled mesa by train--the illustrations are joyful and evocative. It's a great picture book for sparking a discussion on cultural similarities, coming-of-age, symbolism, and family.
Foods to serve at a literacy cafe:
- peppermint candy
- sarsaparilla (root beer will do, in a pinch, as real sarsaparilla is harder to find in the US)
- soup (I'd suggest matzo ball soup even though it's not in the book per se)
- baked beans (sans the pork if you have kids who need to stay kosher)
Literacy cafe crafts/writing: I'd have to do more research to make sure any crafts aren't culturally insensitive, but I think it would be neat to ask kids to design their own prayer shawl (as in, Elan's mother Naya weaves a prayer shawl with symbols representing both of the peoples he identifies with). So the kids would just choose colors for the stripes on a letter-size paper, and decide on 4 drawings (not necessarily religious) that would symbolize their heritage. They could utilize the same media as the illustrator (cut paper collage and acrylics).
There's also a lovely image of Elan in his Acoma headdress, that I imagine would make a fun craft with feathers (and a photo of the child participating in the activity), however again, I don't know enough about the cultural implications and whether or not this would be insensitive.
50-States-PB: California, New Mexico
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
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