T­oypurina: Japchivit Leader, Medicine Woman, Tongva Rebel

little bee. Oct. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781499814668.
Gr 2-5–A picture book biography based on the life of Toypurina, an Indigenous Tongva medicine woman from a region of California. When Toypurina learned that members of her tribe were being mistreated by European missionaries—stripped of their native names and traditions, brutally beaten—she bravely recruited warriors from her own and neighboring tribes to fight the injustice. Despite knowing that the numbers were not in their favor, a group led by Toypurina descended upon the mission under cover of darkness in 1785; while most brought weapons, Toypurina only “carried the energy and spirit of her ancestors.” The revolt ended almost as quickly as it started and led to her exile, but Toypurina’s mettle in the face of dehumanizing treatment is a remarkable story worth being amplified. Stone, a member of the Paiute tribe and descendant of several medicine people, here with coauthor Armand, has succeeded in her desire to bring the life of an Indigenous heroine to the page. There is something pleasantly old-school about this book: the narrative and language are straightforward, the artwork realistic. Dorame, Tongva on her grandfather’s side, acknowledges that no photographs exist of Toypurina, and her warm renderings of the woman and her surroundings are based on copious research. An afterword provides further information on a piece of American history that is unknown to many.
VERDICT A standard telling of an anything-but-standard story, this biography of a courageous medicine woman would be especially valuable in a school collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing