cover image Elan, Son of Two Peoples

Elan, Son of Two Peoples

Heidi Smith Hyde, illus. by Mikela Prevost. Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-9051-0

Having one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent today is barely noteworthy. But in 1898, young Elan is the very definition of exceptional: his father, a merchant, is Jewish, and his mother ("Naya") is the granddaughter of an Acoma Pueblo Indian chief. When Elan turns 13, he is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah in a San Francisco synagogue. Then his family makes the long journey by train and horse to his mother's magnificent mesa homeland, where he dons a ceremonial eagle headdress and takes part in a Pueblo coming-of-age ceremony. "Always remember you are the son of two proud nations, whose roots are as sturdy and deep as this oak tree," says Naya. Inspired by the true-life story of Solomon Bibo (an afterword provides details), Hyde (Feivel's Flying Horses) uses spare but heartfelt prose to show how Elan's family bridges, but never blurs, their two cultures. Prevost's (Trouble Talk) watercolor and collage artwork combines beautifully subtle craftsmanship (the first rendering of the Acoma mesa is created from washes of color and folded paper) with the spontaneous, authentic feel of a period sketchbook. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)