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Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom Hardcover – April 1, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6–Dramatic, quiet, and warming, this is a story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi. While searching for blackberries, Martha Tom, a young Choctaw, breaks her village's rules against crossing the Bok Chitto. She meets and becomes friends with the slaves on the plantation on the other side of the river, and later helps a family escape across it to freedom when they hear that the mother is to be sold. Tingle is a performing storyteller, and his text has the rhythm and grace of that oral tradition. It will be easily and effectively read aloud. The paintings are dark and solemn, and the artist has done a wonderful job of depicting all of the characters as individuals, with many of them looking out of the page right at readers. The layout is well designed for groups as the images are large and easily seen from a distance. There is a note on modern Choctaw culture, and one on the development of this particular work. This is a lovely story, beautifully illustrated, though the ending requires a somewhat large leap of the imagination.–Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. In a picture book that highlights rarely discussed intersections between Native Americans in the South and African Americans in bondage, a noted Choctaw storyteller and Cherokee artist join forces with stirring results. Set "in the days before the War Between the States, in the days before the Trail of Tears," and told in the lulling rhythms of oral history, the tale opens with a Mississippi Choctaw girl who strays across the Bok Chitto River into the world of Southern plantations, where she befriends a slave boy and his family. When trouble comes, the desperate runaways flee to freedom, helped by their own fierce desire (which renders them invisible to their pursuers) and by the Choctaws' secret route across the river. In her first paintings for a picture book, Bridges conveys the humanity and resilience of both peoples in forceful acrylics, frequently centering on dignified figures standing erect before moody landscapes. Sophisticated endnotes about Choctaw history and storytelling traditions don't clarify whether Tingle's tale is original or retold, but this oversight won't affect the story's powerful impact on young readers, especially when presented alongside existing slave-escape fantasies such as Virginia Hamiltons's The People Could Fly (2004) and Julius Lester's The Old African (2005). Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938317776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938317777
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale Of Friendship And Freedom, by Tim Tingle and featuring illustrations by Jeanne Rorex Bridges is the inspiring tale of Martha Tom, a young Choctaw girl. Following Martha Tom through her pursuit of blackberries in the deep forest, Crossing Bok Chitto will captivate young readers with vivid and colorful pictures as the young Native American girl stumbles upon a forbidden slave church and befriends one of its members. A welcome addition to school and community library picturebook collections, Crossing Bok Chitto is very highly recommended for all young readers as a celebration of diversity, acceptance, and unity in a remarkable production of expert authorship and invaluable illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story is ideal for teachers to use when covering The Underground Railroad with their students. The illustrations throw the reader back to a time when Native Americans and African Americans worked together to achieve freedom and independence. Students will enjoy the simple plot; and teachers will appreciate this rich piece of literature that can help them discuss a rather difficult topic--that of slavery and escape to freedom.
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Format: Paperback
Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle is about a girl called Martha Tom who crosses a river called Bok Chitto looking for blackberries. The river however is also the boundary for slavery, once a slave crosses the river the river it is free. When she finally finds blackberries she also finds herself lost. Then a slave comes and talks to her. Later he tells his son called Little Mo to take her to the river. Then Martha Tom visited Little Mo and his family every Sunday to go to church with them. All goes well until Little Mo's mother gets sold, so they plan to escape. Everything goes to plan until they reach the river. Little Mo had forgotten the secret way to cross the river. Then Little Mo put his hands in the river, finds the path, and crosses it. After that Little Mo ran into Martha Tom's house begging for help. With that Martha Tom's mother told all the women of the tribe to put on their white ceremony dresses. Then the women acted like spirits and helped the family cross the river into freedom.

No matter how different you are you can still be friends. Little Mo guided Martha Tom to the river. Martha Tom showed Little Mo the secret way to cross the river. The Choctaw helped Little Mo's family cross the river. Even though they had different traditions they were still friends. Martha Tom broke the rule to visit Little Mo. I would recommend this book anyone who enjoys friendship.

By Fardeen
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Format: Hardcover
Ours is a mixedblood family of Choctaw/Chickasaw and African American blood so we've gone out of our way to raise our children with books about both cultures and found a gem in Crossing Bok Chitto. My daughter so loved the book that she read it all over the house after we read it together. My twelve year old picked it up out of curiosity and enjoyed it as well. My daughter now wants to go to Philadelphia, Mississippi to see Bok Chitto herself!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A stunning tale of courage and collaboration that brings together to intertwined stories of slaves and free Black people and the Choctaw people. As a parent with a Black Native child it's hard to find depictions of Native life or lore or culture where he sees himself as a Black person. This book is a little too intense for my anxious 6 year old but by next birthday I think he will be ready for it and really find it meaningful. The writing and illustrations are a joy to read and it's an important addition to any collection of children's books about American history, about strong girls and women, about Native American history and about the story of Black people from slavery to freedom.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a little biased, since I have met the author and heard him recite this story in a storytelling gathering, but the story is awesome. It is moving, relevant and I would like everyone I know to hear this story of sacrifice, friendship and courage. The peaceful and courageous ways of native Americans is shown well in the story of a brave child and her family who think nothing to risk their own lives for an African American family whose mother is slated to be sold into slavery. It gives me chills every time I hear it or read it. An all time favorite of mine and is for all ages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a teacher or parent looking to introduce the intersection of Native America and African-American cultures in Antebellum America, this is the book. The story is touching and the illustrations are lovely. This story will allow you to introduce ideas of freedom, the Underground Railroad, and more to children. My 4th graders enjoyed it during Black History Month.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great American story for kids. Especially good for Thanksgiving time to show how native Americans are not just the bad guys in a game of "cowboys & indians" or the "helpful squaw". A good introduction to topic of slavery in America. This story and artwork are beautiful.
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