29 Jul / Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition by Anton Treuer [in School Library Journal]
“Indians. We are so often imagined, but so infrequently well understood,” Anton Treuer’s opening sentence reads. As a Princeton-educated, Ojibwe professor with “one foot in the wigwam and one in the ivory tower,” Treuer “cannot speak for all Indians,” but he’s ready with “specific rather than generic answers.”
This young readers adaptation is certainly rare in that it expands on Treuer’s 2012 original, growing from approximately 120 to 200 Q&As. Treuer also takes the mic, making his narrating debut. Composed, eloquent, courteous, Treuer is an ideal, safe guide through all manner of topics, from the difficult, inane, nuanced, to downright racist.
A single quibble: Georgetown was not named for George Washington, but most likely King George II (GW was still a teen when Georgetown was founded in 1751).
Verdict: “Guilt for Whites and anger for Indians [does] nothing to make the world a better place.” Treuer wisely, empathically, brilliantly gets the conversation going.
From the introduction: All the titles here are nonfiction; most feature difficult subjects including history, climate change, systemic racism. Some might ask, why expose younger readers to challenging, unpleasant, haunting truths? One of the featured writers, Hilary Beard, provides the consummate answer back in her introduction to The Burning:
“…the fact that something is upsetting to us doesn’t mean that we should not engage it. Facing the truth empowers us to understand our self, our neighbors, and our world more accurately; to make appropriate choices and decisions; to heal the past and present and build a more promising future. Together.”
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult