Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story

by Danielle Greendeer (Author) Gary Meeches Sr (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this Wampanoag story told in a Native tradition, two kids from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe learn the story of Weeâchumun (corn) and the first Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving story that most Americans know celebrates the Pilgrims. But without members of the Wampanoag tribe who already lived on the land where the Pilgrims settled, the Pilgrims would never have made it through their first winter. And without Weeâchumun (corn), the Native people wouldn't have helped.

An important picture book honoring both the history and tradition that surrounds the story of the first Thanksgiving.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
A much-needed Thanksgiving retelling that centers the Wamponoag people.

School Library Journal

This picture book features a contemporary Wampanoag grandmother and her grandchildren. N8hkumuhs shares the story of the Three Sisters—Corn, Beans, and Squash—and the first Thanksgiving, known as "Keepunumuk" by the Wampanoag people. The book transitions into a combination of history and storytelling about contact between the "First Peoples" and the newcomers. This format will be novel to some young children given the setting and timeframe of the story, though the book attempts to differentiate the parts that are the story by changing the typeface and including ethereal-like images of the Three Sisters. "Before You Begin" and "Important Words to Know" sections also provide context. Rich back matter includes more information about the Wampanoag tribes, a traditional recipe, and a photo and information about the real Maple and Quill, the grandchildren in the story. Overall, this story is a good addition for the historical knowledge of the first Thanksgiving from the Wampanoag viewpoint. VERDICT A good choice for libraries striving to share Indigenous perspectives.—Danielle Burbank

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Danielle Greendeer
  • Danielle Greendeer is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation and works in the areas of tribal governance, cultural perpetuation, and food sovereignty. She lives in Mashpee.
  • Anthony Perry is a Chickasaw citizen and author of Chula the Fox, an award-winning middle-grade historical-fiction book. He lives in London.
  • Alexis Bunten, Yu'pik and Unangan, authored the award-winning nonfiction book, So How Long Have You Been Native? Life as an Alaska Native Tour Guide. She lives in Monterey.
  • Garry Meeches Sr. (Anishinaabe) was born on the Long Plains reserve in southern Manitoba, Canada. His style is reminiscent of the plains style of art and evokes the Eastern Woodlands tradition. He lives in Connecticut, and this is his first picture book.
    Lexile Measure
    Guided Reading Level
    Charlesbridge Publishing
    Publication date
    August 02, 2022
    BISAC categories
    JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
    JUV017060 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Thanksgiving
    JUV012080 - Juvenile Fiction | Legends, Myths, Fables | Native American
    Library of Congress categories
    Indians of North America
    Thanksgiving Day
    Wampanoag Indians
    Pilgrims (New Plymouth colony)

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