Parents' Guide to

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Holiday origin story centers Wampanoag viewpoint, voices.

cover of Keepunumuk book

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This retelling of the first Thanksgiving from a Wampanoag point of view is beautifully written and illustrated. Words in Wôpanâa, the language of the Wampanoag, are sprinkled throughout, and a list of them and their translations appear in the front of the book. The mythical style of Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story is in keeping with Wampanoag storytelling and features plants and animals as characters. Even corn seeds get a speaking part in this passage, when Fox observes two pilgrims taking a basket of them from an abandoned wetu (a traditional Wampanoag home): "Don't take us away!" the seeds cried. "We are waiting for the First Peoples to come back in the spring to prepare our beds. We must grow first!" But the newcomers could not hear the seeds. Their ears did not know the voices of the land."

It may be a little confusing at first for kids to grasp who's talking. The Wôpanâa word Keepunumuk is used for corn, but corn's "sisters," Bean and Squash, have English names. And the ghostly ancestors that hover in some scenes (and on the book cover) are so clearly rendered, they may appear to be live characters, but help convey that the spirits of our ancestors are always with us. The art is striking, and the story is a welcome centering of the Wampanoag in this long mythologized American tale.

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