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Here are two picture books – one old, one new – that celebrate finding the best in misfortune.
The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt, 2000. 0152321977
I found this book by our new national Poet Laureate via Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. She’s hoping for it to be brought back in print (I got it via interlibrary loan), and after reading it, I heartily agree. The story tells of a contemporary Native girl who finds Woogie, a “stripedy cat with tickling whiskers and green electric eyes… When I pet her she purrs as if she has a drum near her heart.” But the poor cat – and our heroine’s heart – is put through the wringer as the cat suffers one misfortune after another, barely escaping with its life each time. Can a cat have more than nine lives? Though this does require the reader to be hardy enough to make it through the cat’s harrowing escapes, the ending is worth it, and it’s all illustrated with beautiful paintings.
Others recommended picture book stories of contemporary Native life include The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson and Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, while those looking for more stories of ups and downs with cats could try Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
Saturday by Oge Mora. Hachette Books, 2019. 9780316431279
I was one of many who loved Oge Mora’s debut, Thank You, Omu, which won gobs of awards, including a Caldecott Honor. In her new book, Ava’s mother works six days a week, so Saturdays, the only day they get to spend all day together, are sacred. They have a packed schedule that usually includes story time at the library, getting their hair done at the salon, and a picnic at the park. Today they’re especially excited for a one-night only puppet show. But as one thing after another goes wrong, can they still preserve the magic of Saturday? This story of love and resilience is illustrated with More’s signature cut paper collages, irrepressibly good-humored and expressive.
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