Saltypie  (2010) - Cinco Puntos Publishing
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Recent Reviews
Recent Reviews
From Tingle's note at the end of the book, to the stories he tells, and Clarkson's illustrations, this book is exceptional. As I said in my earlier post today, order your copy from Cinco Puntos Press. Here, I'll say ORDER SEVERAL COPIES! And, learn more about Tim Tingle and Karen Clarkson. While you're at it, order Tingle's other books, too. Crossing Bok Chitto and When Turtle Grew Feathers are gems.
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Looking back to his childhood, Choctaw storyteller Tingle introduces his capable, comforting Mawmaw (grandmother); recalls his shock as a six-year-old at realizing that she was blind (possibly, he learns, as a result of a racially motivated assault in her own youth); and recounts a hospital vigil years afterward when she received an eye transplant. His strong, measured prose finds able counterpart in Clarkson’s subtly modeled, full-bleed close-ups of eloquently expressive faces and closely gathered members of the author’s large extended family.

The title comes from a word invented by Tingle’s father as a stand-in for any sort of pain or distress, and its use serves to enhance the vivid sense of intimacy that pervades this reminiscence. A lengthy afterword provides more details about Tingle’s family and Choctaw culture, and offers much to think about regarding American Indian stereotypes. - May 1, 2010

Moving back and forward in time, Tingle (Walking the Choctaw Road) offers a tribute to his grandmother, Mawmaw, in a quietly poetic story about dealing with adversity. As a young woman, Mawmaw moves from Oklahoma’s Choctaw Nation to Texas, where a rock thrown by a boy cuts her face, possibly causing her eventual blindness. The term “saltypie,” which the family uses to shrug off difficult situations, is coined after the incident by Tingle’s father (then a boy), who is reminded of cherry pie filling by the blood streaming down his mother’s face. Years later, when a young Tingle asks why the boy threw the rock, his uncle replies, “Your grandmother was Indian. That was enough back then.” The story shifts forward again as the family gathers at the hospital while Mawmaw undergoes a successful eye transplant. Using a nice variety of perspectives, newcomer Clarkson conveys Mawmaw’s fortitude and the family’s intergenerational bonds in gauzy paintings…most are distinguished by strong, recognizable emotions. Ages 7–10.
- April 26, 2010
A grandmother’s life story centers this welcome depiction of a contemporary Choctaw family. A young boy’s bee sting is soothed when the grandmother calls his hurt “saltypie.” A flashback reveals the origin of the expression: A stone malevolently thrown at a young mother injures her, and her son, thinking the blood is like pie filling, tastes it and pronounces it “saltypie.” When the bee-stung boy discovers his grandmother’s blindness, possibly resulting from the blow, an uncle explains, “You just kind of shrug it off, say saltypie. It helps you carry on.” Years later, the extended family gathers in a Houston hospital, sharing its collective past while the grandmother undergoes eye surgery: “No more saltypie …Mawmaw can see.” The grown boy realizes that his grandmother, “Blind as she was…taught so many how to see.” Tingle provides a corrective view of contemporary Native American life, as his author’s note reveals was his intent. Clarkson’s evocative illustrations bathe each scene in a soft light that accentuates the warmth of the family’s love. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10) - April 15, 2010
K-Gr 5— Tingle tells his family's story from their origins in Oklahoma Choctaw country to their life in Texas. The account spans generations and weaves in ghosts from the past to the present day. When his grandmother and grandfather, then a young couple, arrived in Pasadena, someone threw a stone at Mawmaw, and it wasn't until the author was six that he learned that his grandmother was blind. Tingle was a junior in college when he got word that Mawmaw was having surgery. As the family gathered at the hospital, they told stories about their past, and he heard about her days as an orphan at an Indian boarding school and the discrimination she encountered living in Texas. Then they got the word they'd been waiting for: the surgery was a success, and Mawmaw could see. The large, full-spread illustrations are vibrant and vital in moving the story along. A lovely piece of family history.—Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
- May 1, 2010