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When the Shadbush Blooms

When the Shadbush Blooms

5.0 1
by Susan Katz

My grandparents’ grandparents walked beside the same stream where I walk with my brother, and we can see what they saw.

Today when a Lenape Indian girl ventures to the stream to fish for shad, she knows that another girl did the same generations before. Through the cycle of the seasons, what is important has remained: being with family, knowing when


My grandparents’ grandparents walked beside the same stream where I walk with my brother, and we can see what they saw.

Today when a Lenape Indian girl ventures to the stream to fish for shad, she knows that another girl did the same generations before. Through the cycle of the seasons, what is important has remained: being with family, knowing when berries are ripe for picking, listening to stories in a warm home.

Told by Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time, this is a book about tradition and about change. Then and now are not so very different when the shadbush blooms.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The book captures so much that is Native: cycles, the particular roles and joys of people of different ages, plants and animals as integral parts of life, the richness of lives lived simply, and our connection to the past, and thus to the future. The language is crystalline, pure and sparkling, nothing wasted; nothing more needed.” —Karen Coody Cooper (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), Museum Training Coordinator, National Museum of the American Indian

“Both text and pictures invite you in, not as a stranger viewing a different culture, but a welcome guest. ...It does not imbed a Native nation in the distant past. Instead, we see both then and now side by side, deeply connected, flowing into each other.” —Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki storyteller and writer

“Over and against the plethora of ‘multicultural’ writing for young children, this is the one I would choose to show them our pre-conquest lives: the balance of life, the belonging to the land and to each other, and how, for the fortunate among us, it still is that way. The traditions live, we adapt; what sustained us then, sustains now.” —Doris Seale (Dakota, Cree, and Abenaki), poet, and editor/author of Through Indian Eyes and A Broken Flute

School Library Journal

K-Gr 5 Yesterday and today are connected through shared experiences in this picture book about Lenni Lenape customs. As Traditional Sister (from the past) and Contemporary Sister (from the present) describe the activities of their extended families through the seasons, readers will realize that even though times change, family traditions remain the same. The past is portrayed on the left-hand pages, which show a family wearing deerskin clothing, using traditional tools, and living in a wikwam (small lodge). The present is portrayed on the recto, where a family dresses in modern clothing, drives a pickup truck, and lives in a modern house. The characters from both periods engage in similar activities, such as catching fish, harvesting pumpkins, or telling stories. Some objects, such as a baby's cradleboard, are used in both settings. The design is effective, and images in the gutters-a tree trunk, a shoreline, a sledding hill-creatively link the two eras together. Discreet yellow banners identify the seasons-or moons-in both Lenape and English. Messinger (Turtle Clan Lenape) and Katz poetically tell the story in first person, present tense. Fadden (Wolf Clan Mohawk) uses lush hues in his sensitive, acrylic illustrations. An opening note points out the ways that the Lenape and Europeans exchanged cultural elements, and endnotes provide information about the Lenni Lenape and their culture, a description of the Lenape seasons, and a pronunciation guide. Share this book with children of all backgrounds during celebrations of families, traditions, and seasons.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

Kirkus Reviews
Across double-page illustrations, two Lenape Indian families engage in similar activities-an informational juxtaposing of the activities of a family from years past (approx. 400 years ago) as they fish, garden, harvest and play alongside their contemporary counterparts. As the book moves from moon to moon (season to season), one narrative functions as the description for both side-by-side illustrations-an effective visual comparison. The illustrations are stiff, but do reflect the narrative; the text seems a little choppy, more descriptive than lyrical but interesting nonetheless. Each "moon" is named in the native language and in English. A three-page author's note about the Lenni Lenape is informative and useful. This is a gentle introduction to the fact that Native Americans are an important part of our history-and of our present. (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.87(w) x 9.77(h) x 0.38(d)
NC860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Carla J. S. Messinger is a Lenape cultural educator and the director of Native American Heritage Programs. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Allan and daughter Joy. When the Shadbush Blooms is her first children’s book.

Susan Katz has written five children’s books, including the prize-winning novel, Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth. She lives with her husband and a house rabbit in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

David Kanietakeron Fadden, Wolf Clan Mohawk, grew up in a traditional family of artists, naturalists and storytellers. His illustrations have appeared in books, periodicals, animations, and the Discovery Channel’s “How the West Was Lost: Always the Enemy.” Dave lives with his family on Kawenoke, also known as Cornwall Island, at Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, a community located on the Canadian-U.S. border.

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When the Shadbush Blooms 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the beautiful illustrations may first attract you to Where the Shadbush Blooms, the words that describe the feeling of joy that children take in their families now, and took long ago--and the simple pleasures that hold families together--will hold you and any child. Kids will be fascinated by the historical differences in clothing and tools, and interested in similarities over time. They will ask you to read and reread the story, and they will love trying to pronounce the Lenni Lenape words for the seasons and the moons. (The authors wisely included a pronunciation dictionary along with the background of the tribe.) The book holds potential for family conversation, games, and challenges--not to mention those in a classroom. While it describes the Original People, it applies to all people and to the strength of families everywhere. It deserves to win the Caldecott. Susan Gilbert Beck, former Children's Librarian, Librarian and Information Specialist, Certified Teacher, Emanda, Inc.