Monday, September 19, 2011

Mainstream Author Highlight: Kenneth Thomasma

Kenneth Thomasma's Amazing Indian Children series does a wonderful job presenting Native American life in the 1800s. The books are historical fiction, and reference well-known historical figures and events. Most of the books highlight a fictional main character, developed by Thomasma. Some of the books detail conflicts and battles, such as the Battle at Little Bighorn, or the surrender of Chief Joseph, but other books in the series simply tell of various children's adventures.

Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran is an amazing survival story about a young girl who was captured with Sacajawea, but managed to escape.

Doe Sia: Bannock Girl and the Handcart Pioneers is an interesting story about a Doe Sia and Emma, a young Mormon settler, who strike up an unlikely friendship and must rely on each other to survive. Emma's faith is obvious, and her prayers and ideas do not differ at all from mainstream Christian views.

Takini: Lakota Boy Alerts Sitting Bull
is the story of a remarkable boy who shares an almost spiritual connection to the animals around him. Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery, uses Takini to bless his tribe and help secure the victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Soun Tetoken: Nez Perce Boy Tames a Stallion, tells the tragic story of the Nez Perce War and the surrender of Chief Joseph from the point of view of Soun Tetoken, who has been mute since he was a toddler.

Each book features a map at the beginning, and pencil sketches to support the text throughout.

What I Like: Rarely have I read such fair books. Thomasma deals with the conflict between Native Americans and white settlers without bitterness and anger, and he makes a point to show the humanity of all races. Many Native Americans are portrayed as noble and good, but Thomasma doesn't hesitate to show flawed Native Americans who were capable of cruel or unwise choices. So, too, when Thomasma writes about the abuses Native Americans suffered at the hands of the U.S. Army, he always includes stories portraying white people in a positive light. In this way, he teaches young people about sad, unfortunate conflicts, but without the judgement and stereotypes present in so much literature.

What I Dislike: Nothing except the series title. My daughter kept saying, "Mom, Indians are from India! It should be Amazing Native American Children."

Special Info: Native American spirituality is portrayed as being important to the characters' daily lives. Many characters believe the Great Spirit communicates with them through dreams or animals. Also, characters speak to and honor the Great Spirit, and ask him for strength and guidance.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8 and up

Publisher Info: Grandview Publishing Company, 1984-2007; ISBN: 1-880114-22-4; paperback, 180-260 pages, $7.99

Buy Naya Nuki at for $7.99.

Buy Doe Sia at for $5.00.

Buy Soun Tetoken at for $5.00.

Buy Takini at for $15.13.

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