Casey Strauss's Reviews > Crossing Bok Chitto

Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle
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it was amazing
bookshelves: native-american

This is a picture book inspired by a song that the author heard on a trip to visit the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians. Two young children, Martha Tom, a member of the Choctaw tribe, and Mo (short for Moses), a black slave, become friends, even though the Bok Chitto River separates them. On one side live the Choctaws, Martha's tribe; on the other is plantation owners and their slaves, Mo’s family. The first page tells the reader, “If a slave escaped and made his way across Bok Chitto, the slave was free. The slave owner could not follow. That was the law.” The two become friends one day when Martha finds herself lost and needs help finding her way back home. Through Martha, Mo learns about the Choctaw way of life, their ceremonies, and their music. Through Mo, Martha learns English; she listens to the preaching at his church, and gets to know his family. Their friendship grows over time, until one day when Mo’s mother is sold into slavery, and he comes to Martha for help.

Tim Tingle weaves a story that captivates the reader. It tells of a friendship that takes place in the south, and is based on a true story of a Choctaw family that used to help runaway slaves cross the Bok Chitto River. This is a versatile picture book that could work in a varying range of classrooms. Students in grades 2-4 will enjoy listening to the story of the two friends, and the vivid paintings of Jeanne Rorex Bridges bring the words to life. This book can be paired with other picture books set during the same time period in history depicting slaves striving to be free. For middle school students to read, Tim Tingle has also written a collection of stories from the Choctaw tribe entitled "Walking the Choctaw Road." Older students in grades 5-8 will have the opportunity to learn more about the oral traditions of story telling, as there is a section written by the author in the back of the book that connects the story to the rich history of the Choctaw Indians. Tim Tingle writes, “Set in the old south, Crossing Bok Chitto is an Indian book, written by Indian voices and painted by an Indian artist.” There is much for students to gain by experiencing this story and learning more about the traditions of the Choctaw tribe, as well as discussing the themes of friendship, perseverance, and faith.
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Reading Progress

July 6, 2010 – Shelved
July 6, 2010 – Shelved as: native-american
Started Reading
July 11, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by S10_Abby Alley (new)

S10_Abby Alley I loved reading your review! The story of the friendship sounds like something that could be easy tied into a number of units. I am actually thinking about doing a “friendship unit” this year – partly for social studies and partly for reading. This may be a great book for that! It sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Although I am hoping this story doesn’t have such a devastating ending, the way the two learned from each other is similar. I am excited to look at it on Wednesday.


message 2: by S10_Matthew (new)

S10_Matthew It seems like a novel way to approach a common theme - two people from different cultures separated by some type of boundary. Both are from tortured cultures to be sure, but you make the book seem uplifting. And I like your recommendations for introduction in the classroom.

I would guess that their friendship would be quite dangerous, but you don't really discuss those repercussions in your review. Is the danger surrounding maintaining a friendship between people from such different backgrounds a running theme in the novel?


message 3: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Casey, I enjoyed reading your review. I would like to read this book, at some time. I think it is interesting how the two children helped each other to grow, as Martha learns English and Mo is able to call on her family when his mother is sold. I liked your recommendations for units of study and would definitely use this text if I taught middle school. It seems to be a book that encompasses a variety of themes.


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