cover image The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle

The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle

Jewel Grutman, Gay Matthaei, Thomasson Grant. Legacy Words, $19.95 (72pp) ISBN 978-1-56566-063-2

Even a cursory glance at this handsome debut volume lets readers know that it is no ordinary picture book. The blue cloth jacket, with its rounded corners and stamped border design, artfully suggests the eponymous ledger, as does the ruled inset that bears the title-written in script, as is all the text-and a distinctive, childlike illustration. Opening the book-not vertically but horizontally-reveals sumptuous marbled endpapers that enclose a journal kept by Thomas Blue Eagle, a (fictitious) Sioux lad who learned ``the white man's language and his skills'' at the Carlisle (Penna.) Indian School-an institution, as noted in the book's afterword, that existed from 1879 to 1918. The journal's entries, which are written across the pages' lines rather than on them, range from informative to poignant to humorous (``The first time I saw a white man I thought he was sick because he was so pale''); and all exude a child's guilelessness (``The white man broke the treaties. We went to war''). Inspired by the picture stories of 19th-century Plains Indians, Cvijanovic's vivid pictographic illustrations are outstanding, speaking volumes even as they, too, remain perfectly childlike. Uncommon artistry combined with thoughtful research have produced a work of rare quality and merit. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)