CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 24. . . .February 21, 2014
Trail of Tears is a detailed information book that presents a tragic segment of American history. Author Lynn Peppas offers this history in simple, honest language, thereby making this complex content accessible for a younger audience.
The book begins with some background information on pre-settlement Aboriginal culture and the impact settlement had on Aboriginal peoples. It proceeds to discuss how propaganda propelled resentment of Aboriginal peoples and how government policies volleyed Aboriginals between assimilation and removal. The Trail of Tears was initiated by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which required all Aboriginals to move to newly designated territory. The Trail of Tears is the 2,200 miles journey Aboriginals walked to new Indian Territory. Along the way, many died due to insufficient food, illness, and general military brutality. The book concludes on an optimistic note by discussing the recent Native American Apology resolution heralded by United States President Barack Obama.
To complement the information text, each page is embellished with colour illustrations and photographs which offer attractive two-page spreads. The book includes a Table of Contents, an Index, and a Glossary to help children navigate through the text. In addition, a “Learn More” section offers eager children an opportunity to expand their learning with both print and web material.
Trail of Tears offers a variety of sources to support historical claims: first-hand accounts of historical letters add a personal dimension, newspaper articles provide reflection on this historic event, and modern legal documents acknowledge this history. The combination of sources, the simple writing style, and the compilation of illustrations make this book a fantastic learning resource for a complex and sensitive subject.
While the reading level of this book may be advisable for grade three, the serious nature of the subject matter and the level of detail provided may be more suitable for older children. Trail of Tears is an excellent resource for children learning about Aboriginal history in North America. I would recommend this book for both school projects and general interest.
Rachel Yaroshuk is currently working as an Auxiliary Librarian at North Vancouver District Public Library.
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