Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
written by Tim Tingle; illustrated by Karen Clarkson
(Cinco Puntos Press) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library
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It is 1915 and a young Choctaw mother steps out on the porch of her new home in Pasadena, Texas. As she is admiring the light of a new day, a young boy throws a rock and cuts her face. Her two year old son sees his mother sitting on the floor with a red liquid running between her fingers. He thinks it is sweet cherry pie filling and takes a taste. Spitting it out, he says "Saltypie!". His mother laughs and cries at the same moment and this word becomes a phrase for the Choctaw family to use to describe trouble that you have to shrug off. The strong young mother becomes a grandmother who has lost her sight, but she is still able to teach others to see through the strength of her character. Saltypie concludes with a life changing event that brings the family together to remember how their mother and grandmother has touched their lives.
On the back cover of Saltypie, author Tim Tingle says "Stories of modern Indian families rarely grace the printed page. Long before I began writing, I knew this story must be told." It is a wonderful story of a lady who exhibits tremendous courage and strength through some difficult times. This is a great character lesson for our students. As Tingle writes in his essay in the back matter, this book is also an opportunity for students to see that "Indians are modern people, that Indians are friendly neighbors who love their families, their homes, and care about education." Saltypie is a chance for students to understand that American Indians are a people for today and not just the history books. The modern American Indian is woefully underrepresented in children's literature so let's celebrate this terrific book and hope for more like it in the future.
Other reviews of Saltypie:
American Indians in Children's Literature