When most people think of Kansas, we tend to think, “flat.” And, after all, in Dorothy Must Die, author Danielle Paige called the Kansas town Flat Hill. I’ve already talked a bit about the Wizard of Oz movie and book (mis)perceptions of Kansas (including that Baum’s original descriptions were based on his unhappy experiences of […]

I’m really enjoying Linda Furiya’s memoir Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood In Whitebread America (2006), but I have a little quibble. During her upbringing in rural Indiana, she experienced many incidents of casual racism. Her memories of comments that stung are poignant; she gives many examples of thoughtless words spoken by white […]

As I was making my book choices for Indiana, I realized that I didn’t have a young adult book. I always seem to choose at least one book that is a young adult or young readers’ book for each state. (Technically, I read 4 young adult books for New Mexico–the two Klages books, the Bruchac […]

There are several important scenes in Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman, that take place in Chaco Culture National Historic Park. I will try not to give spoilers, but will instead stick to simply “illustrating”–providing the reader with a bit more information on what’s mentioned in the text. First of all, a map of the […]

Several of my recent reads for New Mexico are set (at least part of the time) on the Navajo Nation of the Southwestern United States. First of all, I should note that the Navajo Nation is located mostly in Arizona. The map below shows how the Navajo population is distributed throughout the Nation. (For reference, […]

I’ve been telling my 10 year-old son about the Navajo Code Talkers–and he’s loving it! Kids love secret codes–I certainly did, and so does my son. He recently received a Mail Order Mystery as a gift (the pirate one), and it included several messages in a basic pigpen code. He was very excited, and, although […]

There are very few birds in Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac. I got a little bit excited when, on the first page of Chapter 1 the narrator and main character says, “I hoped I would see an eagle, for that would be a good sign.” […]

In Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac, Ned Begay tells a story about a training exercise he and several other Navajos participated in with their group on the Big Island of Hawaii. Half of the Big Island is rain forest and the other half is desert, […]

The food mentioned in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, is an important part of the setting–it definitely sets the book squarely in New Mexico. And it’s authentic, homemade New Mexican fare–no Frito pies here! However, I do have to admit that I was a little frustrated by it. It’s mentioned so matter-of-factly that […]

In So Far From God by Ana Castillo, is, in many ways a quintessential novel of the Chicano experience, so it’s no surprise that the quintessential Mexican-American legend–La Llorona–appears. The basic legend is that La Llorona–literally the Wailing Woman–is a spirit who wanders–usually at night and usually along water–in search of her lost children. In […]