During ALA I was fortunate to receive an advance reading copy from Little, Brown & Company of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie with art by Ellen Forney. Based upon experiences of his life, Sherman Alexie tells the story of cartoonist Junior who travels daily off reservation to attend a high school where he is the only Indian. On first reading of this young adult book, I worried that the portrayal of reservation life was too bleak and would reinforce stereotypes some have about Native Americans. Fortunately I discovered Debbie Reese had already blogged about this title and linked to a review by Beverly Slapin. Debbie Reese posts frequently to her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature and currently teaches American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Frequent readers of LM_NET will recognize her name. We emailed briefly about this title and I’m looking forward to discussing this topic in more depth later this month.
There are several other reviews of this title already out even though the book isn’t being released until September. If you work with young adults, you need multiple copies of this book in your collection. I do not pretend to be an excellent book reviewer (so I’ll point you to some other blogs and reviews to read below) but I can tell you that this book contains humor and heartbreak with very clever illustrations throughout. I hesitated to read it initally because of the cover containing toy figures of a cowboy and an Indian. I’m glad I set aside my cover judgments to read this book.
La Bloga’s review
Richie’s Picks review by Richie Partington
Illustrator Ellen Forney’s blog
Robert Benziker’s interview of Sherman Alexie
On the nomination list of the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association)
Kirkus starred review July 15, 2007
Booklist August 1, 2007
Summertime is an excellent escape for me to read the young adult books that I am not able to use daily with my young elementary group. If you haven’t taken advantage of BookExpo, publisher parties, and ALA Exhibit halls to pick up some advance reading copies, you should consider going. Who knows what treasures you might discover!