House of Purple Cedar - Tim Tingle

Have you read How I Became a Ghost? Well, you'd better get on that!! It's wonderful, the work of a true storyteller.

But moving on, The House of Purple Cedar came out just recently (February 18, 2014), and really, whether or not you've read How I Became a Ghost, this is a book worth noting, not only for its fantastic representation of Native Americans and strong characterization overall, but because it is a beautifully structured story that is built around historical events that Tingle took the time (hehe... it's an alliteration!) to fully research. It's even endorsed by Debbie Reese (and when it comes to Native American literature for young people, that's a big deal!) Here's what she had to say:
"WOW! I'm gonna say that again... WOW. Tim Tingle's HOUSE OF PURPLE CEDAR is amazing! His storytelling voice rings out as I read about the Choctaw people of the late 1800s... And the stories that voice is telling? Stories we should all know. History we should all know."
I definitely agree with Reese's notes about the voice and the characters. There is so much great stuff about this newest book. But perhaps before I go on, I should at least give you a description of the book (or in this case, I'll let the book jacket speak for itself, since it really does say it best):
Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness.
Tingle employs magical realism and moments of humour throughout the novel, giving readers so much to love and enjoy in the face of the tragic events experienced by so many of the characters. Tingle's narrative is not overly didactic, but is rather a joyful celebration of Choctaw tradition. And much like in How I Became I Ghost, Tingle showcases the oral storytelling tradition in which he has been immersed over the years.

I love the Panther/protector aspect of the tale, and I find Tingle's overall narrative to be not only enjoyable but also beautifully rendered, and although this particular book is perhaps more suited to an older audience, mature young readers will definitely appreciate the writing style and story arc.

Highly Recommended


  1. Hi Robert, thanks for this great review, but could you change the last word in this sentence from NOTHING to NOTING. Will make all the difference in the world to how I view this book. Best regards, Lee Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press

    But moving on, The House of Purple Cedar came out just recently (February 18, 2014), and really, whether or not you've read How I Became a Ghost, this is a book worth nothing,

  2. Well THAT is just highly embarrassing! My sincerest apologies (and thank you for finding that... apparently even a second reading wasn't enough!)


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