Cover image for Home to Medicine Mountain
Home to Medicine Mountain
Santiago, Chiori.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco, Calif. : Children's Book Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
30 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 x 26 cm
Two young Maidu Indian brothers sent to live at a government-run Indian residential school in California in the 1930s find a way to escape and return home for the summer.
Reading Level:
520 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.1 0.5 51310.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.5 2 Quiz: 29573 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.M18 S36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In the 1930s two young brothers are sent to a government-run Indian residential school -- an experience shared by generations of Native American children. At these schools, children are forbidden to speak their native tongue and are taught to abandon their Indian ways.

Native American artist Judith Lowry's illustrations are inspired by the stories she heard from her father and uncle. The lyrical narrative and compelling paintings blend memory and myth in this bittersweet story of the boys' journey home one summer and the healing power of their culture.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Telling the story of illustrator Lowry's relatives who spent a year at a government-operated boarding school, Santiago provides a view of the often severe residential schools that separated Indian children from their parents and their traditional culture. In the 1930s, Benny Len and Stanley travel the length of California to begin a year at such a school. Forced separation from family is difficult; school discipline is strict. The text and pictures work well together to show Benny Len's nightly dreams about what he misses most--his grandmother and tribal ceremonies. The story ends with the boys escaping by jumping on a freight train heading home. Lowry's colorful illustrations on thick, shiny paper flow across the pages, pulling children into the story. There is no glossary. Nor are there explanations of many of the symbols or ceremonies that appear in the story. For more information about the schools, readers can turn to The Serpent's Tongue [BKL D 1 97] or to Russell Freedman's Children of the Wild West (1983). --Karen Morgan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The real-life experiences of Lowry's father and uncle fuel this account of two Native American brothers in California, sent to a government-run boarding school in the 1930s to unlearn their traditional ways. While the book discloses a sad chapter in the long history of the disenfranchisement of Native Americans, it will also resonate with any kid who has been homesick. But the storytelling wobbles. There is little buildup to the main event‘occurring when the boys, still children, ride the rails home for summer break‘and the contrast between the regimented life at school and life at home does not create narrative momentum. Lowry's stylized artwork works well both for the prison-like school and the happier scenes at Medicine Mountain: the sharp edges of her compositions lend themselves to a cold, hard look and to a more innocent, naïve style. Kids will also be interested to see Native Americans at home in jeans and dresses. This book goes a long way toward replacing romanticized stereotypes with something closer to history, but remains less than satisfying as a story. Ages 6-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-For decades, Native American children were taken from their families and sent to government-run boarding schools. There, the youngsters lost precious contact with their cultures, their languages, and their families. In this personal story, the illustrator shows through vivid, full-page paintings the story of her father and uncle finding their way home from such a school in the 1930s. Stanley and Benny Len, inspired by their grandmother's stories, undertook their own adventure to get home for the summer. Late one night, they hitched a secret ride on a train headed for home, a ride that was destined to become a favorite family tale. The boarding school and teachers are shown in an unflattering light, especially as seen through these memories. The artist and author have brought a little-known chapter of history to children's attention, and have done so in an appealing way. The colorful paintings and intelligent text tell a loving story, best for one-on-one or personal reading. A welcome title.-Mary B. McCarthy, Windsor Severance Library District, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.