Native American Heritage Month Kid Lit Review of “When the Shadbush Blooms” by Carla Messinger with Susan Katz

Shadbush got its name because it blooms when the shad fish are running up river to spawn. This story, about the Lenni Lenape Native people of both the past and the present, focuses on structuring life around nature and the seasons, such as the time to fish for shad. Each double-page spread shows the lives of both Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, comparing and contrasting their experiences and family relationships at the same time and place in the cycle of seasons. Depending on the time of year, they fish, plant, harvest, play ball games, prepare for winter, play in the snow, and collect maple syrup.

The left side of each page spread features the ancestors of those on the right side. On the left, the captions are written in Lenape words; English words are on the right. (Parent/Teacher pages in the back provide a glossary and pronunciation guide, as well as additional information about the Lenni Lenape culture.)

The principal author, Carla Messinger, is a descendant of the Lenape (Delaware) Indians (Turtle Clan), and is the Director of Native American Heritage Programs. The book, warmly illustrated by Wolf Clan Mohawk David Kanietakeron Fadden, has won a number of awards.

Evaluation: This story shows just how much contemporary Lenape families have in common with their ancestors, in spite of all of our technological advances. It is also clear that Lenape families are not so different than non-Native families. In addition, to me it suggests how much an emulation of the Lenape relationship with nature might enrich the lives of all of us, as we seek to redefine our relationship with a changing planet.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, 2007

Note: This informative website will give you more information on the Lenape way of life. There is also a page with links to kids activities.

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7 Responses to Native American Heritage Month Kid Lit Review of “When the Shadbush Blooms” by Carla Messinger with Susan Katz

  1. Another great edition for the Native American collection.

  2. Amy @ My Friend Amy says:

    aw these illustrations look great!

  3. I like the idea of learning more about them, and I’m sure the book is great, but the illustrations that you’ve shown aren’t my favorite style. I think it’s the colors more than anything else – the blue hues of the trees, etc. But that’s just me.

  4. Vasilly says:

    This sounds like my kind of book! I’m going to see if my library has a copy.

  5. bookingmama says:

    Booking Daughter studied this tribe in fourth grade!

  6. janegerow says:

    Reblogged this on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and commented:
    I really liked this blog. Hope you do, too!

  7. stacybuckeye says:

    I love the way each spread was formatted. I need to look for this one.

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