Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkess to Light by Tim Tingle illus. by Karen Clarkson
Tingle shares a family story that begins in 1915. When Tingle's father was almost two years old, the family moved Oklahoma to Pasadena Texas. One day someone threw a stone cutting the face of Tingle's grandmother.
"My father was two at the time. He ran to see his mother sitting on the floor, her hand covering her face. It looked like the peep-eye game to him. He crawled into her lap and saw shiny red liquid squishing from between her fingertips. It reminded him of sweet cherry pie filling, bubbling up from the criss cross crust of Mawmaw's pies. He reached to her face to get a taste of it, then touched his fingertip to his lips. "Saltypie!" he said, spitting as he said it. " Saltypie!"
That rock may have caused Tingle's grandmother to lose her sight. Though he didn't realize she was blind until he was six years old. In 1970 the family gathered at the hospital. Tingle's grandmother was having surgery to fix her eyesight.
I loved Tingle's straight forward approach. Many times I was moved by his beautiful words.
" A quiet but remarkable change occurred in the room. The light streaming through the window took on a copper glow, floating above the green waiting room carpet. It reminded me of the late afternoon sun in Mawmaw's backyard. The spirit of who we were as a Choctaw family was coming alive in the room. We could almost hear the cicada hum their night music in the Choctaw river bottoms of years ago. The stories continued, but there were fewer words now and much silent nodding. Many heads bowed to the moment."
Clarkson's illustrations bring Tingle's family to life. Saltypie is a very beautiful book, textually and visually. Tingle's afterword is just as good. With so few American Indian children's authors, its as important as the story.
In "How Much Can We Tell Them?" Talks about his family and touches upon many stereotypes American Indian's face and what people can do to stop them. An excerpt
I've linked this post to Non Fiction Monday. This week its being hosted by Mary Ann over at Great Kids Books.