Friday, March 11, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 11 - - - Om-kas-toe

This week for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm listening to Sophia read aloud Om-kas-toe which is one of the books in her homeschooling curriculum. There is far too little literature available for children regarding Native Americans, but author Kenneth Thomasma is trying to close that gap.

Set in 18th century in northwest America, Om-kas-toe is an historical fiction story that centers on the adventures of a Blackfeet tribe where a woman (Tall Woman) gives birth to twins. Initially, it looks as if one of the twins will be left to die, but a tribal decision is made to let their mother keep them both. The twins grow up and become invaluable to the tribe in different ways.

The story helps readers learn how the Blackfeet people lived and how they viewed their world at the time. It gives a glimpse into a spiritual culture that is often forgotten. For Om-kas-toe and the Blackfeet tribe, everyday life is full of adventure and courageous acts.

Om-kas-toe is a story about a boy's friendship with a crow as well as the introduction of horses to Blackfeet culture. One of the girls' favorite parts is when a baby falls off a cradle board, Om's wise crow finds the baby. Om is the first one there. Everyone thinks Om found the baby, so the tribe changes his name to Om-kas-toe which means "swift as a deer and strong as a moose."

Another favorite part is when Om-kas-toe and his twin sister discover a strange animal (a horse...which they named "elk dog" since it was large like an elk with a tail like a dog) and succeed in bringing it back to the tribe. The description of when they saw the "elkdog" for the first time, showed the wonder, mystery, and excitement of discovering new things. 

Om-kas-toe is a story can be enjoyed by all ages, and would be an excellent way to introduce Native American literature to children. Kenneth Thomasma has many books in his series about Native American children of different tribes and time periods.  After reading/listening to Om-kas-toe both the girls (and I) would enjoy reading more books in the series.

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