Gr 4-6--Sitting Bull witnessed great changes in the lives of Native Americans during his lifetime (1831-90). Nelson, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, presents Sitting Bull's life as an entry point into that period of history. A detailed time line and author's note reflect extensive research and a depth of understanding about the topic. The book is engagingly told in the first person, with Sitting Bull describing his childhood training to be a warrior and a hunter. White people had been in the area for many years, but increased westward expansion and the decision to build forts brought the tensions among the various Native groups and white settlers and soldiers to a higher level. The book does not attempt to present all sides of the issue but instead concentrates on what happened to the Hunkpapa people and other Sioux groups and the pivotal battles of Killdeer Mountain, Rosebud Creek, and Little Bighorn. Although Sitting Bull was illiterate and did not leave memoirs, Nelson's choice to use the man's voice will draw in readers and give the events a sense of immediacy. The book is visually appealing, combining art inspired by ledger book art style (a note explains that American Indians incarcerated on military bases sometimes were given discarded books in which to draw) with period photographs and quotations, demonstrating the intersection of two cultures in a tangible manner. Though the images aren't overly graphic, they do depict death and violence (one picture includes a small detail of George Custer shooting himself in the head). VERDICT Not a typical report book, this portrait of a committed leader provides a unique perspective on the man and his time period.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VACopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
First-person narration, while invented, makes Nelson's (Digging A Hole to Heaven: Coal Miner Boys) illustrated biography of Native American warrior Sitting Bull both powerful and poignant: "The white men came to our land with two faces. They said one thing but did another. The trespassers spoke of peace and sharing while taking our hunting grounds." Calm, measured storytelling details Sioux life and customs, as well as horrific battles with the U.S. Army. Archival b&w photos punctuate Nelson's dynamic ink-and-colored-pencil illustrations, featuring stylized Native American warriors on horseback. His fluid artwork appears atop ledger paper, juxtaposing chaotic, all-over-the-page battle scenes with lined backdrops representing the white man's more rigid, record-keeping ways. Harkening to an era when imprisoned tribespeople were given discarded ledger paper on which to draw, Nelson (a member of the Sioux tribe) succeeds in showing the disconnectedness of the two cultures. The tale ends with Sitting Bull's tragically ironic death at the hands of fellow Native Americans. An extensive time line and author notes provide substantial background to reinforce the more creative tack Nelson uses to share Sitting Bull's story. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.