Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall

Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall


Publishing: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1976

Awards: 1977 Caldecott Honor Book

Description: A boy wants very badly to be a hawk, he says that he is the hawk’s brother. So he steals a young hawk and keeps it caged, but the hawk wants nothing more than to be free and fly. He lets it go, but he and the hawk have a special bond. Though his feet never leave the ground, he knows about flying.

Programming: This would be a good book to pair with this duo’s other award winner: The Desert is Theirs. As I suggested in that post, students could focus on the Native American emphasis on animals and choose their own spirit or totem animal and discuss which characteristics they have in common. Also, they can discuss whether they thought the boy was wrong for stealing the bird, and talk about how he bonded with it.

The Desert is Theirs by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall

The Desert is Theirs by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall


Publishing: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1975

Awards: 1976 Caldecott Honor

Description: Baylor tells about the “desert people”-the Papagos Native American tribe that lives in the desert. Written almost as poetry, it talks about the tribe’s culture, the animals and environment of the desert, and how both animals and people learn to adapt to it. The illustrations have lots of white space, they are line drawings with sparse, but bright colors.

Programming: This could tie-in to the study of different environments and how people live in them. Students might contrast this book, for example, with the experience of the Inuit living in the tundra. They might learn to do a rain dance just as this tribe might. There is also a lot of emphasis on animals in Native American culture, so they might learn about totem or spirit animals and decide what their own spirit animal might be and talk about what qualities they think they share with the animal.

Arrow to the Sun: a Pueblo Indian Tale by Gerald McDermott

Arrow to the Sun: a Pueblo Indian Tale by Gerald McDermott

Publishing: Viking, New York, 1974

Awards: 1975 Caldecott Winner

Description: This Indian folk tale tells the story of a boy who was born of a maiden and the Lord of the Sun. The boy is rejected by the other boys in the pueblo and goes to search for his father. The arrow maker makes the boy into a special arrow and shoots him to the sun where he must go through four trials to prove he is the Lord of the Sun’s child.

Programming: Because there are several other Caldecott list titles about Native American culture, students might compare and contrast this tale with the others. They might also talk about the typical elements of  a folk tale that are found in this story, such as a quest and a hero. Crafts might include some sort of indian art or home-made bows and arrows.

The Mighty Hunter by Berta and Elmer Hader

The Mighty Hunter by Berta and Elmer Hader


Publishing: Macmillan, New York, 1943

Awards: 1944 Honor

Description: Little Brave Heart’s mother tells him he needs to study and learn a lot in school so that one day he can be a wise leader. But Little Brave Heart only wants to hunt like his father. He hides his books and sneaks out with a bow and arrow to go hunting. He finds a rat who tells him that he should instead shoot a bigger animal, a prairie dog. The prairie dog then claims the same and leads him to a rabbit, who leads him to a wildcat who leads him to an antelope, etc…through a wolf, a buffalo, and finally to a mother bear and her cubs. The bear stops Little Brave Heart and asks him if he needs her fur to keep warm or if he is hungry. He is neither, but instead out hunting for fun and to show he is brave. The mother bear gets angry and chases him off, and Little Brave Heart runs all the way back to school where he should have been all along. The text looks like it is hand-lettered, and the illustrations are pretty detailed, alternating between black and white and color.

Programming: This would be a good introduction to teaching students about plains Indians who would follow the buffalo herds and how they would use every part of what they killed, not just the meat. Students might have a worksheet after where they label which parts were used for what purpose. They might also draw their own hunting paintings like the one Little Brave Heart looks at. They might also discuss the way that Native Americans gave names and give each other names based on good qualities.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble


Publishing: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 1978

Awards: Caldecott Winner

Description: Goble tells the story of a young Native American girl who had a special way with the horses. She leads them to drink and knows exactly where they like to graze. One day, she falls asleep in the field while the horses are eating, and a thunderstorm drives her and the horses far away from home. They meet a stallion who is the leader of the wild horses and she and the horses from her village remain there, until hunters come and find her a year later. She returns to the village, but isn’t happy until she goes back to live with the horses. Every year, however, she returns with a colt for her parents, until the people believe she eventually becomes one of the horses.

Programming: Discussions could focus on horses and different types of wild horses, or students might learn about the different associations of animals with Native American tribes. For example, they might learn about totem animals and focus on one and what it means.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie DePaola

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie DePaola


Publishing: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1988

Description: Little Gopher longs to ride out with the other boys who will become warriors, but he has a different life mission. This book tells the story of how he paints the colors of the sunset and brings it down to the people. The illustrations are in a folk style appropriate for the native american influence, and the images are not over-powered by the text. The very last page contains facts about the Indian Paintbrush flower referenced in the story, and how DePaola came up with the story. 

Programming: There could be some great connections made to diversity of talents and strengths. Students might take a personality test or see whether they are left- or right-brained. For a craft project they might paint their own sunsets using a picture as a guide, or they might simply go outside and paint something in nature.