* The Nice List: Part Two *
Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, eds. #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. Toronto: Annick Press, 2017.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Instagram posts by the ReMatriate campaign.
she’s always going to remember this
you are rebellion, resistance, re-imagination
her body will remember
you are dug-up roads, 27-day standoffs, the foil of industry prospectors
she can’t speak about it for a year, which is one-sixth of her life.
for every one of your questions there is a story hidden in the skin of the forest. Use them as flint, fodder, love songs, medicine. you are from a place of unflinching power, the holder of our stories, the one who speaks up.
(excerpt from “Leaks,” by Leanne Simpson, pg. 29)
#NotYourPrincess is a love letter to young Indigenous women of North America. It’s an effort to break stereotypes “so we can collectively move forward to a brighter future for all.” The women who share their stories, poetry, and artwork speak not only of the injustices we read about in history books — genocide, displacement, residential schools — but also more modern aggressions that Native women continue to experience. Like the massage therapist who jokes that you’re not a “real Indian” if you grew up in the city. Or all those people who dress in “Pocahottie” Halloween costumes. Or the president who uses “Pocahontas” as a slur against a political opponent.
But this is also a hopeful book, with portraits of doctors, actors, athletes, artists, and activists who smash stereotypes on a daily basis; social media campaigns that educate, that take a stand, that celebrate the Matriarchy; affirmations and success stories.
It’s an awesome addition to Charleyboy and Leatherdale’s series of modern indigenous anthologies (see my 2016 Review for my thoughts on Urban Tribes and Dreaming in Indian).
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems
Rating: 5 out of 5 mind-blowingly trippy naps.
This series is such a big hit at my local library, and now I get why. I have seen the lightbulb. I have jumped on the Happy Pig Day bandwagon.
Elephant and Piggie are best friends who learn valuable lessons like:
- If your friend Snake asks to join your game of catch, let him in! He may not have arms, but you’ll figure something out!
Or: When I’m feeling discouraged by my limitations, Elephant and Piggie remind me that there’s more than one way to accomplish a goal. If the popular or traditional method isn’t an option, I can look for an even better alternative.
- If you spend too long debating whether to share your ice cream, it will melt. But then your friend will share her ice cream with you, so it’s ok.
Or: Some days, anxiety and indecisiveness get the better of me, but Elephant and Piggie remind me not to beat myself up about my mistakes. I have good friends and family members who can help me out when I’ve had a bad day.
- Life is even more fun when you realize you’re a character in a book and you can control the reader
Or: Um…I’m not just a powerless puppet in some great cosmic game? I’m in control of my own life? I don’t know, but if you only read one Elephant and Piggie book, read We Are In a Book. It’s the funniest, most meta-tastic one.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The Egypt Game. New York: Yearling, 1967.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 security octopuses.
I may have mentioned a few (dozen) times how much I love Snyder’s The Changeling, and yet, I never got around to reading any more of her works until now. Maybe I was afraid of spoiling the experience I had with Martha and Ivy. Maybe I thought I could never love any of Snyder’s other characters as much as I loved these two girls and their fantastic imaginations.
But a few months ago, I found a copy of The Egypt Game in a thrift shop (how fitting is that?), and something told me, It’s time.
The story was a bit slow at first, focusing more on the set-up of the Game than on actual game play, and there were a few early conflicts that Snyder just glossed over, telling rather than showing what happened. But then the Egypt Game really got started, and things got totally mysterious and mystical, and Alton Raible’s black-and-white illustrations made all the characters look ethereal, and by the end of the book, I knew this was going to be a worthy addition to my literary self-care shelf.
And, to give The Egypt Game a few points over The Changeling… first, the setting of Casa Rosada and its surrounding neighborhood is a lot more diverse than Rosewood Hills. And, second, while I still love The Changeling best, its ending is really bittersweet, while the ending of The Egypt Game is a lot more Christmassy and bright.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mental sunbathing in Sweet Valley
Rating: 4 out of 5 conveniently reappearing video cameras.
Finally, my literary self-care shelf wouldn’t be complete without a few delightfully trashy (yet still strangely inspiring) beach reads. From kid-friendly alien adventures to tween-tastic popularity contests to soapy summer camp sagas, these books show the villains and mean girls getting their comeuppance, the best friends quickly patching up after backstabbing each other for eighty pages, the child detectives easily making peace between warring alien races, and the self-doubting writer learning to believe in herself.
I can’t wait for Anna and Karyn to review Starring Jessica! and Elizabeth’s Rival on the Double Love podcast. There’s some hilarious Lila Fowler quotes, outrageous outfits, and stunning personality switches — could that magical mountain air be infecting Jessica with responsibility, kindness, and a mellower attitude toward boys? Could Elizabeth actually consider cheating on Toddles? And what happens when Jessica turns out to be a better writer than Liz???
The stuff of truly great literature, I know. But we all have our guilty pleasure reads.