Elan, Son of Two Peoples

illus. by Mikela Prevost. 32p. Kar-Ben. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780761390510; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9780761390527; ebk. $6.95. ISBN 9781467724302. LC 2013002190.
K-Gr 3—Based on a true event, this picture book is set in 1898. Elan is "the son of two proud nations whose roots are as sturdy and deep as this oak tree." The boy's mother is the granddaughter of a Pueblo Indian chief and his father, the son of a cantor, emigrated from Eastern Europe and opened a trading post in New Mexico. Elan has just turned 13, and he is having two ceremonies, a traditional Bar Mitzvah in San Francisco, where he lives, and the Pueblo ceremony of becoming a man. For the latter, he and his parents travel by train to New Mexico. Along the way, his mother tells him about her culture and the rituals, and the art depicts what she is explaining. Their journey provides many interesting sights, such as a sheriff hauling a prisoner to jail and a blacksmith shoeing a horse. Finally, they reach his mother's home, and he meets his relatives for the first time. The realistic illustrations, done in earth tones, beautifully capture Elan's mother's family life and culture and the New Mexico desert. An unusual piece of American and immigration history.—Brooke Rasche, La Crosse Public Library, WI
In 1898, thirteen-year-old San Franciscan Elan honors both sides of his heritage through his Jewish Bar Mitzvah and Pueblo coming-of-age ceremony. The text reads more like a list of each culture's traditions than a story, detracting from a potentially fascinating historical-based account, and the characters are underdeveloped. The illustrations depict the allure of Elan's wide-ranging cultural experiences.

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