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The People of Twelve Thousand Winters Review by Tess Hamre

Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrated by Jim Madsen
Sleeping By Press
315 Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

In The People of Twelve Thousand Winters, Walking Turtle shares what it is like to be part of the Lenni Lenape tribe. Speaking in first person, he tells us how he got his name, about his cousin and his family.  He shares some of the tribe’s beliefs. We get a glimpse of what his life is like in different seasons. “Set in early America just before the first Europeans reached its shores, award-winning author Trinka Hakes Noble sensitively tells the story of a Lenni Lenape boy standing on the cusp of childhood and moving into manhood.” (inside front cover)

In my opinion, the hallmark of a truly great picture book is its ability to captivate the parents as well as the children.  A well-written, beautifully illustrated picture book should be just as engaging for the parent to read aloud as it is for the child to hear. The People of Twelve Thousand Winters meets my criteria for an enduring classic picture book. I loved this book as did all of my daughters.  It is written well, using language that engages the young person, but does not bore an adult reading aloud. Ms. Noble uses specific adjectives and interesting verbs to paint a verbal picture. The trees are not just tall but they are "giant oaks" and "towering elms." The clouds do not just move across the sky; they race. The boys do not just sit on the rock; they perch. Ms. Noble also weaves a few Lenape words throughout the story. I like this exposure to another language.

I wish I had this book when my oldest began her American History studies in 3rd grade.  I am thankful that I have this book to use with my developmentally delayed daughter when she studies American History.  We have just been enjoying the book together.  I’ve used it to introduce her to the Lenni Lenape people, but I have not used it as part of formal studies. The book includes an “author’s note” and a short glossary. I used the glossary for myself, and I will use it in the future with my daughter.

Sleeping Bear Press offers a free teacher’s guide for many of the books they publish. There is one available for The People of Twelve Thousand Winters. This guide can be downloaded from the website. I will be including this book and the study guide in our more structured studies of American History. I highly recommend this book, even if you are not studying American history.  This is a book worth owning.

Product Review by Tess Hamre, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2012