Friday, September 3, 2010

Vanishing Cultures-Nonfiction Series

  Vanishing Cultures is the series title for seven books by Jan Reynolds and all  with beautiful covers. Each book showcases an indigenous group and highlights their close relationship to their surrounding environment.  With gorgeous photos and easy text these are fantastic books to share with any age child. 

    Frozen Lands begins: “As the sun sets on the edge of the frozen shores of Qumanituaq, a large inlet of Hudson Bay, Kenalogak asks her grandmother for one more story. They hurry to prepare tea before the chill of darkness comes, and Kenalogak’s grandmother begins her tale.” (p. 1-2)  Inuit history is shared as well as day to day life for Kenalogak’s family. They depend on the caribou, their snow dogs and a shared respect with the natural world that helps them  survive. Kenalogak and her brothers learn how to build a new igloo from their father and it only takes the family about an hour to build it. I think kids of all ages would find Kenalogak’s life fascinating in the frozen land of the Canadian Arctic.

    Down Under shares the aborigines Tiwi tribe who live on an island just off the coast of Australia. It begins: “Far down under, the bright sun sets over one of Australia’s tiny islands. Inside a ring of small fires that keep wild animals away at night, a young aboriginal girl named Ampenula whispers to her mother, asking for one more story. She curls up close as her mother begins her tale about their tribe, the Tiwi.” (p1-2) Amprenula talks about dancing your own Dreaming and how it brings her closer to the land. As the tribe travels from place to place they hunt for food in the trees as their ancestors did before them. They catch a bandicoot and a large carpet snake in the book. Kids will love the close up photos of the snake as it is pulled from an old log.

     Both books show children and adults in native clothing, which in the Tiwi tribe (naturally) means less clothing.  While noone is naked per se there are photos of nealy naked children and the backside of a woman wearing just a skirt.  My girl asked honest questions about this as would kids in a school setting-kids in a school setting might giggle a bit about this but it wouldn't keep me from sharing the story.

    This whole set would make a great addition to any collection but would be especially perfect for a cultural study.  My friend Tina at Books Are My Thing! is posting about two other titles in this series.  Please travel over to her blog to check out what she has to say!  I thought there were only four titles in the series (our public library only had four) but now that I know there are seven I'm anxious to read the other choices.  I loved the connection to the environment each book made a point to share-it is important to realize as we advance our own culture, other cultures would prefer to stay as they have for centuries.  Jan Reynolds reminds us how important it is to respectfully allow them to live in their preferred manner.

Check out this pdf file to use with this series.
I realized while researching this author that she wrote another nonfiction title, Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life-reviewed here by me.  I found an interview with Reynolds at Lee and Low Books about sustainability.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for posting this! These books look awesome! They are definitely something I want to check out asap :)