Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

D Is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet

D Is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet

Michael Shoulders, Debbie Shoulders
Illustrator:  Irving Toddy 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 10
Sleeping Bear Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-1585362745

Many Americans feel that the history of North America began when European explorers discovered these shores. The truth of the matter is that Native Americans were living here for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. For centuries hundreds of tribes thrived in many parts of the continent, where they formed a wide variety of societies. Some Native Americans were nomads, while others, like the Anasazi, built towns and were farmers.

In this wonderful alphabet book the authors explore twenty-six topics (one topic for every letter of the alphabet) that look at the cultures and history of Native Americans. For every topic readers are given a piece of artwork to look at, and a poem and a section of text to read. The carefully researched information provided in the text will give readers an accurate portrayal of Native American customs and history. For example, we will learn that horses were an import and came to North America in the mid 1500’s with Spanish explorers and colonists. Before the arrival of the horse, dogs made it possible for hunters to track down and surround animals.

In addition to learning about the role of the horse in Native American history we learn, among other things, about shamans, totem poles, vision quests, earth lodges, flutes, and bison. Readers will learn about the art forms that Native Americans excel in, including the making of pots, blankets, jewelry, and quillwork. They will discover that they have a rich spiritual heritage that connects them with their past and that helps them move forward into the future. The sport of lacrosse was invented by Native Americans, though the original form of the game was rather different from the one we play today.

This is one of the titles in a series of alphabet books published by Sleeping Bear Press. Like the other books in the series, this title can be enjoyed on many levels. Little children will enjoy looking at the pictures while the poems are read to them, and older children will find text sections interesting and enlightening.