"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kiki's Journey


Kiki’s Journey
Author: Kristi Orona-Ramirez
Illustrator: Jonathan Warm Day
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
ISBN: 0892392142


Kiki’s Journey is the story of Kiki, a Tiwa girl who lives in Los Angeles far away from the reservation in Taos, New Mexico where here family is from. She is angry and embarrassed when everyone she meets assumes that because she is Tiwa, she knows everything about Native Americans in general. She hates it.

Then Kiki’s family goes on a journey back to Taos to visit family for vacation. She hasn’t been there since she was a baby. The trip home to the Pueblo becomes not just a vacation, but an inner journey for Kiki as she learns about the Pueblo and her family. With her grandmother’s help, she learns of her heritage, the village she was born in and her history. She finds a way to accept the path her life has taken and to be proud of where she came from.

The story is a beautiful one, filled with prayers to the Creator, bits and pieces of Native American life and lore. It touches a part of so many of us that have mixed heritages or that live far away from where we came from. I think that both children and adults will find it resonates.

Each illustration by Jonathan Warm Day compliments the story and gives it even more warmth. His illustrations of the desert and the adobe buildings in the village are particularly stunning and rich. My favorite illustration is the one where Kiki and her mother are praying to the Creator and the wind is streaming through their hair. It’s a beautiful and elemental piece. The feeling of love in the family is strong and persists throughout the book.

About the Author:
Kristy Orona-Ramirez (Taos Pueblo/Tarahuamara) is a writer and fourth grade teacher. She is also a lead singer and songwriter for the Native American Northern drumming group, The Mankillers.

About the Illustrator:
Jonathan Warm Day (Taos Pueblo) is a well-known artist and writer who grew up on the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation. He currently resides there with his daughters.


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