It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day, an annual event to celebrate new, inclusive children’s books. See below to find out more about the many sponsors, participating reviewers, and events.
Title: The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Written By: Hasan Davis
Illustrated By: Alleanna Harris
Publisher/Date: Capstone Editions, a Capstone imprint/2019
Suitable for Ages: 8-12
Themes/Topics: slavery; Lewis & Clark Expedition; American history; explorers; African-American explorers
Long before Thomas Jefferson became America’s third president, he dreamed of western exploration….
In May 1804 Captain Lewis, Captain Clark, and twenty-eight men set out from St. Louis, Missouri, in three boats with the goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean. All but one of those men were volunteers. This is his story.
Brief Synopsis: The true tale of York, a slave belonging to Captain William Clark, who participated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the western continent from the American frontier to the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century.
Links to Resources:
- Learn more about the Lewis & Clark Expedition;
- Follow the trail of the Expedition and visit National Park Service sites associated with it;
- Visit the Statue of York in Louisville, Kentucky;
- An Author’s Note recounts the story after the Expedition ends and the group returns to civilization;
- Be an Explorer! Plan an expedition to discover a new destination in your neighborhood. Who will you ask to join you? What will you bring? How will you measure how far you travel and map your route?
Why I Like this Book:
In short, diary-like entries, York, a slave, recounts the travels of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and shares his perspectives on this history-making journey across the unexplored western territories of the United States. Although York left no actual diaries and his thoughts and feelings are extrapolations from other sources, adding his “voice” to the history enriches the story and results in a more accurate account of the events.
I think young explorers will enjoy this more-inclusive perspective on American history, and I think teachers will appreciate the questions it raises about the interactions of African-Americans and Native Americans, about other contributions of African-Americans to our history, and about how slavery in frontier areas differed from slavery in the “civilized” regions of our early nation. Of particular interest, I think, is the fact that York voted, with the other Expedition members, on the location of a winter camp in Oregon, but his name did not appear on the official Expedition roster, he “received no pay, no land, and no recognition for his sacrifice”, nor did he receive his freedom upon return to “civilization”.
Harris’ color-filled, rich tableaux feature many natural scenes that brought to mind nineteenth-century American landscape paintings. Several also depicted York at the edges of the scenes to, I think, highlight the divide between the others’ freedom and York’s enslavement.
A Note about Craft:
In a publisher’s note, we learn that The Journey of York “is based on the author’s extensive research” and that “[e]very effort has been made to tell York’s story with historical accuracy, but the author has taken some creative license in filling in the gaps, especially regarding the thoughts and feelings of York, for which little to no historical documentation exists.” For those writing picture book biographies, especially about persons from marginalized groups who may have left no first-person written records, it’s a difficult task to recreate their stories. It’s especially difficult to write that biography utilizing first-person point-of-view and include that person’s thoughts and feelings, as Davis has done here. Despite the risk, though, the reward of a better, more inclusive history is high, when done well, as Davis has done, and when the author and/or publisher warns readers of the “creative license”.
Note the double meaning of the word “journey” in the title: as both the actual journey York and the Expedition members undertook and York’s journey of discovering how the Native Americans revered him as “Big Medicine” and how his strength, and vote, mattered when the Corps was traversing the wilderness.
Learn more about Hasan Davis and his work with children. Visit Alleanna Harris’ website to view more of her artwork and children’s book illustrations.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
And now, more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here:https://wp.me/P5tVud-
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN
Medallion Level Sponsors:
Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito</a, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press
SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul,Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear PressDow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board:
Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming,Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam,Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts: A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media:
MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details
FREE RESOURCES From MCBD:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld!
I always love your reviews, Patricia…there are so many layeres to them and I appreciate the note about craft! PLUS, the illustrator of this book is Alleanna Harris who is illustrating Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe that is coming out next year from Little Bee Books…how wonderful. I will have to get this book you reviewed and that will give me a peek at what the illustrations in my book will probably look like!
Thank you Vivian. How wonderful that Alleanna is illustrating your book – cannot wait to read it next year.
I don’t believe I’ve read anything about how the Native Americans viewed African-Americans. York had a voice on the expedition, but quickly lost it when he returned. It is so sad that he didn’t gain any land or anything for what he did! Agree with Vivian’s comments. I always enjoy your reviews and I’ll be looking for this one! Happy MCBD!
Thank you! Happy MCBD to you, too (I know it was technically a few days ago, but I think we both celebrate diverse kidlit every day!).
I really hope that teachers will include this one in their Black History month celebrations next month. As Pat says, there is so little about the interaction between African Americans and Native Americans during this time period. I would love to read this one.
Joanna, this is the first book I’ve seen that addresses the issue of African American & Native American interactions. This is such a wonderful book for classroom discussion.
This is a great review, Patricia! I’ve read an adult book by Lalita Tademy, called CITIZENS CREEK, that portrays her ancestors in historical fiction. It was a terrific book for adults and eye-opening to see how Native Americans, African Americans, and white Americans interacted, often with disastrous results. If you’re interested, here’s my blog post on the book: https://jilannehoffmann.com/2015/06/06/citizens-creek-lalita-tademy/
Thanks Jilanne. I didn’t know Citizens Creek, but I’ll check it out!
Had no idea this was MCBD – gah! This looks like an important story for any day though!
Great review Patricia. Love your craft note. What a great examination of a history not taught enough.
Great review! I’ll have to check this one out… I love picture book biographies and this is a historical figure that I unfortunately had not heard of before. Your notes about the lack of source material and the meanings of the word “journey” were really interesting. Thanks for sharing!
Here are my MCBD 2019 book reviews: https://pidginpeasbooknook.blogspot.com/2019/01/mcbd-2019-book-reviews-albie-newton-how.html
Thanks Jillian. I’ll check out your review!
It’s about time someone wrote about York. The expedition was a success in part because of the unsung heroes who did a lot of the labor. Thanks for sharing this book – I’ll look for it.
I don’t recall learning about York when I was studying American history. I agree that it’s about time his story is told.
What a great selection! I hadn’t heard about this book and it is one I certainly want to read and share. Thanks, Patricia!
York’s story is inspiring to read & important to share. Thanks for stopping by & commenting, Wendy!