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D Is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet Review by Nancy K. BaetzBy Debbie and Michael Shoulders
Illustrated by Irving Toddy
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street, Suite 300, Chelsea, MI 48118
Part of a series of alphabet books, D Is for Drum is a wide-reaching introduction to native peoples. The book begins with the Anasazi and ends with the Zuni, revealing a rich cultural heritage among the indigenous peoples of North America. Who among us hasn't felt the pull of their customs? The Native American tribes are a colorful and unique piece of our United States.
You will find that there is much to learn from this book. (My daughter and I both got a boost in our vocabulary!) In addition to the main text of the alphabet book, there is detailed research for each people group. Far-reaching areas are touched on--tribes in the north as well as those familiar to me from the desert southwest. Some of the descriptions seem a little harsh towards the immigrants who came and claimed the land of these tribes. How does one explain what happened to all the buffalo without being prejudiced one way or the other? Or the gold miners who fouled the water with their silt? It's hard. Much of what happened in the past was not right, and there are still many hard feelings. Hopefully, this book will give the children of today a taste of this beautiful heritage and encourage discussion between parent and child.
The illustrations by Irving Toddy are bright and bold and attractively detailed. My favorite is the Zuni woman at the end of the book. Her skin is as lovely as burnished clay as she carries a symmetrical pottery jar on her head. Toddy is an award-winning artist, and he did a beautiful job of telling this story in pictures. I can't imagine it having the impact it does if it were done any other way.
I think you will enjoy this book. You can sit down with your younger children and just read the main text. Or you can read the more detailed research with your older children. If they are ready, have your older kids do some research of their own on the elements of this colorful society. Don't leave the indigenous peoples out of your study of American history!