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Written by author Laurel Goodluck and Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, Forever Cousins is a Native American story about best-friend cousins, Kara and Amanda. Everything is great, then Kara leaves the city to move back to the Rez. Will their friendship stay the same?
Kara and Amanda hate not being together. Then it's time for the family reunion on the Rez. Each girl worries that the other hasn't missed her. But once they reconnect, they realize that they are still forever cousins. This story highlights the ongoing impact of the 1950s Indian Relocation Act on Native families, even today. This tender story about navigating change reminds readers that the power of friendship and family can bridge any distance.
For ages 4-7.
About the authors:
Laurel Goodluck writes picture books with modern Native themes. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Laurel comes from an intertribal family and is an enrolled Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation and Tsimshian tribal member. Laurel has degrees in psychology and community counseling and family studies. She lives in Albuquerque, NM, where they raised two children.
Jonathan Nelson is a Navajo graphic designer, graphic artist, and illustrator. He is Kiiyaa'áanii (Towering House Clan) and Naakai Dine'é (Mexican Clan). Jonathan designs and creates art and illustrations with paints, pixels, and ballpoint pens. He lives outside Denver, Colorado, with his family. http://stg.jnelson.work/work
Two Native American cousins find their friendship tested when one moves from the city to the Rez.
Amanda loves purple, while Kara’s favorite is pink, but “they agree that sunflowers are beautiful, powwow dancing is fun, and chokecherry jam on toast is the best.” When the time comes for Kara’s family to leave, both girls’ parents assure them that the family will be together again next summer at the reunion. A year passes, and the cousins miss each other very much but keep in touch by phone and through letters. When it’s time for the reunion on the reservation, the families make preparations: Amanda’s family packs and gets the GPS set for the two-day drive; Kara’s family makes welcoming signs, and her dad hangs a picture of the family tree. But the girls are nervous: Will they still be friends?
In an author’s note, Goodluck explains that in the past, many Native families have faced separations; she cites the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 as one cause. Nevertheless, she emphasizes that they still maintain close relationships due to shared family and tribal values. This matter-of-fact yet poignant story brings that bond to vivid life as the girls realize that no matter what, they are “forever cousins.” The illustrations rely on a muted palette, featuring appealing characters with large heads. Cultural references are scattered throughout, like the dolls made by the girls’ magúu (grandmother), powwow dancing, and a Hidatsa naming ceremony. Children facing separations of their own will find this reassuring.
A sweet story of friendship, family, and community.
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