There is more than one good reason to read Joshua and the Biggest Fish by Kaylee Morrison and Nancy Smith (illustrations by Dorothy Shaw). The first? It’s a good story. That should be enough, but the teacher in me loves that there is more.
Joshua and the Biggest Fish is the story of a Muscogee Creek boy who is tired of being called cepane (chee-BAH-nee), little boy. During a traditional food gathering event, he sets out to prove that he is no longer a child. The tale, set in 1920 on the banks of the Deep Fork River in Oklahoma, is based on real events.
It’s important that young people become acquainted with history and culture, and not just their own. Since we can’t travel back in time…yet…what better way to learn history than with a good story?
Students also like to pick up words in other languages. We spent one school year learning Choctaw vocabulary. We built a Choctaw word wall, practiced with a native speaker on a Choctaw Nation website, and showed off our skills every chance we got.
Joshua and the Biggest Fish introduces Muscogee Creek words, including pronunciation. A quick online search brings up some additional resources, some sponsored by the tribe. The book also contains a section of photographs from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
I recommend this book for all the reasons above.