Help Me Track Down this Book!

This is going to drive me mad… there was a book I read as a kid that was about a Navajo boy who was ripped away from his family and culture and sent to a residential school. I’d swear they called him Leo, but of course I could be wrong. I remember them trying to basically turn him white, and one of the major battles was making him wear underwear with his jeans. There were a lot of other struggles and confusion as they tried to remove the Indian parts of himself and he tried to hold on to his identity. I think it was set in either Arizona or New Mexico. There were illustrations, and I know it wasn’t a long book, but I don’t remember if it was a picture book or not. Anybody remember it?

Help Me Track Down this Book!
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15 thoughts on “Help Me Track Down this Book!

  1. 3

    Sorry, doesn’t ring a bell, but then it doesn’t sound like the sort of story I generally read.

    The only books I have read that dealt heavily with Navajo culture were Tony Hillerman’s books. Excellent mysteries as well as very good exposure to the Navajo. Sadly, he left this mortal realm only a couple of years ago.

  2. 4

    Mobius, Hillerman’s daughter is continuing the Leaphorn / Chee series. I read the first one and thought it was better than some of her father’s later efforts, but maybe a notch below his best.

    Dana, when I was a kid I did read a picture book about a Navajo boy but it didn’t have anything like the boarding school scenes you mentioned. It showed a traditional Navajo childhood, which was nice — I was too young to take on the horror show of cultural genocide. Anyway, I don’t recall the name of that book either.

  3. blf

    Another very very faint bell here… I have the dimmest of recollections of a picture book about a Navajo child(? children?) in the present day, but no recollection of any details about the contents, or of the authour or title. I would have been way too young (just learning to read) to “get” anything about cultural appropriation or genocide, so it’s entirely possible this is a completely different book. (Sorry, I know this isn’t really of any help…)

  4. 7

    I don’t know the book, but try posting the same query at the booksleuth website. I forget whether it’s part of alibris or abebooks. They have different sections at booksleuth, including one specifically for kids’ books. I’ve found the folks there quite helpful.

  5. 9

    @3 DonDueed

    Thanx. That is great news. I have read all of the Leaphorn/Chee books by Hillerman and will have to look up his daughter’s work.

    BTW, PBS had three movies based on some of the books, produced by Robert Redford IIRC. I think you can find them on YouTube. I believe Skinwalkers was the first one.

  6. 10

    Mucho thanx, DonDueed. My state’s virtual library has both books available. I checked out the Kindle version of the first one and have a hold for the second. Again, thanx.

  7. 13

    Mobius, you’re welcome and I hope you enjoy them.

    I saw the PBS adaptations, but didn’t think they did justice to the books. Okay, I’m a snob. There was also a Hollywood movie of The Dark Wind but that was pretty pathetic — which is especially annoying since that was one of the best books in the series.

  8. 15

    Now you’ve got me trying to remember an old SF novel I read years ago that I sadly can’t really recall title nor author (Aldiss maybe?) set in pre-Columbian North and Central America within a Native American culture that ended with the plagues and European arrival. Quite a thick and, ahem, adult book (I.e. it featured some sex scenes – which were appropriate in narrative context and nicely done.)

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