Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories

Sáanii Dahataał: The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories is by Luci Tapahonso. A wonderful book of poems and stories about Tapahonso's life and family in Shiprock, New Mexico. She beautifully intertwines life and death, and aspects of Navajo family, culture, and beliefs. The writings are about simple everyday subjects: raising children, death, family pets, or family interactions; yet they are all beautifully written using both English and the Navajo language. A wonderful book!

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is by Edward Abbey. Abbey, a naturalist and conservationist, spent some time as a park ranger in Arches National Monument in southeastern Utah. This book is a series of vignettes about his time in the park. His love for the desert is clear, as are his sometimes harsh attitudes regarding other aspects of humanity and American culture. I think describing this book as a Southwestern Walden is a fair comparison. It wonderfully describes the harsh and unforgiving beauty of the desert Southwest.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Romancing the Stone


Romancing the Stone is by Catherine Lanigan. This is the book version of the movie. If you enjoyed the movie, the book will be a fun read as well. The story revolves around recluse romance writer Joan Wilder who must fly to Columbia to deliver a treasure map forwarded to her by her brother-in-law, pieces of whose body have been found. She must turn the map over to her sister's kidnappers or her sister will be next. Once in Columbia, a series of humorous mishaps occur.

Ratings: 10th grade - 4 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content) - P (profanity).

TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks

TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks is by Akash Karia. This short little book gives you all the hints you will need to put together an effective TED talk or any other kind of presentation. A very helpful book.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Grass Dancer

The Grass Dancer is by Susan Power. The wonderful classic of Native American storytelling. Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, tells the story of various people living on a North Dakota reservation. The story moves back and forth in time weaving the stories of all the characters, past and present, together. It also contrasts the western view of reality against the more fluid view many Native Americans have of reality and the spiritual side of life. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read. A great introduction to truly multi-cultural writing.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is by John Steinbeck. Definitely a book you must read before you die. A true classic this is the tale of George and Lennie set during the Great Depression. George and Lennie make the perfect traveling companions; George is smart but slight of build and Lennie is huge but with the mind of a child - a very large child who doesn't know it's own strength. They have a dream to own their own piece of land and raise rabbits, but they need money to purchase the land. When they arrive at a ranch in Salinas Valley it seems their dream might be in sight, then tragedy strikes. A stunning tale of trial, friendship, and love. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Tracks

Tracks is by Louis Erdrich. This story is set on a North Dakota reservation at a time when Native Americans were fighting to hold onto their land. The story is told by two narrators, Nanapush and Pauline. Nanapush is older and provides a window into the wisdom, patience, and love of a man for his family and others in his tribe. He has knowledge of the white world, while still maintaining a strong link to the history and culture of his people. Pauline is a young girl who wants to break with her people and their history and embrace totally the white world. This is a powerful story with a powerful point to make. Fans of Erdrich will enjoy this small book as well.

Ratings: 12th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).