Home To Medicine Mountain

Home To Medicine Mountain by Chiori Santiago. Illustrated by Judith Lowry. Children's Book Press, 1998. ISBN 0-89239-155-3, $15.95. 32 p.

Imagine two young Native American boys, taken from their home and sent to a residential school miles away. Then imagine their dismay when it became clear that they would not be sent home for the summer. Home to Medicine Mountain is the story of how illustrator Judith Lowry's father and uncle found their way home from a residential school in the 1930's.

A visually stunning book, it is an ideal introduction for young children to the history of residential schools. The author and illustrator create for the reader a story which gently describes some of the difficulties experienced by Indian children when they were removed to an environment where their own language and culture were denied them. Benny Len wishes the teacher would tell them their lessons in stories as their grandmother did. He learns to wear shoes, even though they mean that he can no longer touch the earth, and he learns to move in straight lines, live by the clock, and eat strange food.

Through his dreams we are shown a glimpse of the world and life left behind.
The contrast to the world of the school is poignant and telling. Thanks to his brother Stanley's daring plan, the two boys are able to sneak away from the school and ride the rails

The book makes it clear that the boys returned to the school in the fall, but they did so armed with their own story of cleverness and courage, a story that would always remind them that they knew the way home. All the more powerful because of its simplicity, this book is one which can, and should, be used by elementary schools in history and social justice units.

An excellent resource for creative writing, art, and creative thinking classes. 

Distributed in Canada by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (800 260-9777), in the U.S. by Publishers Group West (800 788-3123), or contact Children's Book Press at 246 First Street, Suite 101, San Francisco, CA 94105


The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 3, Sep 1998
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