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Children's LiteratureThe American Indians remain among our country's most forgotten peoples. Although they are true Native Americans, living here when European settlers first arrived, most of us know little about their history, customs and traditions. This book, one of the publisher's ten title series about Indians called "America's First Peoples," is an admirable attempt to address this knowledge gap. The book details the Choctaw Indians, who today live primarily in Oklahoma and Mississippi. The author's primary focus is on the Choctaw's wonderful tradition of stickball playing instead of warfare to settle differences. Instead of fighting an enemy in battle, the Choctaw challenged them to play stickball, which they called appropriately "Toli," or "Little Brother of War." Their games were intense affairs, often lasting all day. The victors took home horses, food and other prizes from the losers. There is much here to interest young readers—eye-catching graphics and sidebars, a recipe for Choctaw Carrot Bread, and directions for making a Choctaw Combed Design Pot from a tennis ball. There is also an informative, short discussion of the 19th century's Trail of Tears (similar to that experienced by the Cherokee), when the U.S. Army forced the Choctaw to walk hundreds of miles in winter to their newly created reservation in Oklahoma. Mention is also made of World War I Choctaw soldiers who used their native language to create an unbreakable code that German soldiers could not decipher. With obvious care for her subject, the author has crafted an excellent book that will be an ideal addition to any library. 2004, Blue Earth Books/Capstone Press, Ages 6 to 10.
— Bruce Adelson, J.D.