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Crossing Bok Chitto
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About the Author

Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle makes his living telling stories and teaching folklore at schools, universities and festivals nationally. The Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers selected Tim as "Contemporary Storyteller of the Year" for 2001. Tim Tingle lives in Canyon Lake, Texas, near San Antonio. Artist Jeanne Rorex Bridges traces her heritage back to her Cherokee ancestors. Born in Oklahoma, her work is nationally known and has won many awards in Native American art shows, including the 2005 Best of Show at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. Crossing Bok Chitto is her first fully illustrated book.

Reviews

Gr 2-6-Dramatic, quiet, and warming, this is a story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi. While searching for blackberries, Martha Tom, a young Choctaw, breaks her village's rules against crossing the Bok Chitto. She meets and becomes friends with the slaves on the plantation on the other side of the river, and later helps a family escape across it to freedom when they hear that the mother is to be sold. Tingle is a performing storyteller, and his text has the rhythm and grace of that oral tradition. It will be easily and effectively read aloud. The paintings are dark and solemn, and the artist has done a wonderful job of depicting all of the characters as individuals, with many of them looking out of the page right at readers. The layout is well designed for groups as the images are large and easily seen from a distance. There is a note on modern Choctaw culture, and one on the development of this particular work. This is a lovely story, beautifully illustrated, though the ending requires a somewhat large leap of the imagination.-Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Bridges, a Cherokee artist making her children's book debut, joins Tingle (Walking the Choctaw Road) in a moving and wholly original story about the intersection of cultures. The river Bok Chitto divides the Choctaw nation from the plantations of Mississippi. "If a slave escaped and made his way across Bok Chitto, the slave was free," writes Tingle, "The slave owner could not follow. That was the law." But Bok Chitto holds a secret: a rock pathway that lies just below the surface of the water. "Only the Choctaws knew it was there, for the Choctaws had built it," Tingle explains. When a slave boy and his family are befriended by a Choctaw girl, the pathway becomes part of an ingenious plan that enables the slaves to cross the river to freedom-in plain view of a band of slave hunters during a full moon. Bridges creates mural-like paintings with a rock-solid spirituality and stripped-down graphic sensibility, the ideal match for the down-to-earth cadences and poetic drama of the text. Many of the illustrations serve essentially as portraits, and they're utterly mesmerizing-strong, solid figures gaze squarely out of the frame, beseeching readers to listen, empathize and wonder. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"In a picture book that highlights rarely discussed intersections between Native Americans in the South and African Americans in bondage, a noted Choctaw storyteller and Cherokee artist join forces with stirring results... the story [has a] powerful impact on young readers." -Booklist, starred review "Crossing Bok Chitto... tells a tale with a happier ending, but its journey is no less a departure from the narrative of American uplift. In literature for children, this is a lesson as old as the Grimms. But these realities cut deeper than any fantasy." -The New York Times "Tingle is a performing storyteller, and his text has the rhythm and grace of that oral tradition. It will be easily and effectively read aloud. The paintings are dark and solemn, and the artist has done a wonderful job of depicting all of the characters as individuals, with many of them looking out of the page right at readers." -School Library Journal "A moving and wholly original story about the intersection of cultures...Bridges creates mural-like paintings with a rock-solid spirituality and stripped-down graphic sensibility, the ideal match for the down-to-earth cadences and poetic drama of the text." -Publishers Weekly, starred review "Crossing Bok Chitto is very highly recommended for all young readers as a celebration of diversity, acceptance, and unity in a remarkable production of expert authorship and invaluable illustrations." -Midwest Book Review, starred review "A very moving story about friends helping each other and reveals a lesser-known part of American History: Native Americans helped runaway slaves...While, this is a picture book; it would make a wonderful read-aloud for middle elementary students." -Children's Literature

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