Thanksgiving has a difficult history and for many years has certainly been whitewashed with pilgrims taking center stage. Fortunately, the stories of Native Americans are beginning to be told. I’d like to share a book that is filled with truth and heart.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
by Kevin Noble Maillard (author) and Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator)
Roaring Brook Press 2019
Picture book for ages 5-8 with back matter should be required reading for everyone
Themes – family, Native American history and traditions
Settings – Grandmother’s kitchen, North America
The story begins…
FRY BREAD IS FOOD
Flour, salt, water
Cornmeal, baking powder
Perhaps milk, maybe sugar
All mixed together in a big bowl.
A group of children surround an older Native American woman as they begin to prepare fry bread. The bread is described by shape, sound, color, and flavor. Fry bread takes time and making it is an art shared from teacher to student as the heritage is passed along.
Then, the narrative takes a turn as the sobering history is recounted.
North America is illustrated as it was originally, without borders.
Ultimately, this is a book about tradition, survival, and hope.
Juana Martinez-Neal’s illustrations depict the many variations in skin tone of Indigenous people as well as traditional items such as bowls, baskets, toys, and fabrics. Debut author Kevin Noble Maillard is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekuskey Band and has included back matter that shares traditions, history, and facts about past and current situations that Indigenous people face. While the warmth of family is celebrated, the history of fry bread and the oppression in Native Americans is not slighted. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story is the book I most recommend to parents and teachers as they help children gain a different perspective on history and culture that has not been told.
As a bonus, the author’s recipe for Fry Bread is included and may be the start of a new tradition for families and students.
Thanksgiving continues to be my favorite holiday because of what it represents – a day to be thankful. Of course, we should be thankful everyday but, in my family, this is the day we gather together to share stories and reflect on the years past and look forward to what is ahead. We are heading over the Grapevine to my sister’s home with a wild weather forecast. We’re prepared with chains and snacks.
My first a Field Trip Life post was written on Thanksgiving in 2013 – 6 years ago! To my original followers, thank you for joining me on this journey and thank you to all of you who have joined me along the way. Here’s to many more field trips both on the road and in books.