Against the Grain: Johnny's Pheasant

Mention of Johnny's Pheasant by Cheryl Minnema, illustrated by Julie Flett

An encounter with a pheasant (which may or may not be sleeping) takes a surprising turn in this sweetly serious and funny story of a Native American boy and his grandma“Classics, in both children’s and adults’ literature, are often books written by white, western, male authors and are characterized as having ‘stood the test of time’ because they have received accolades from scholars, teachers, librarians, critics, and other gatekeepers (very few of which are actual children, which is a problem because adults are deciding which books children should most enjoy, without a whole lot of input from child readers). Over the past few decades, this canon has been challenged, and rightfully so, as including a number of books with deeply racist, homophobic, sexist portrayals and themes. Additionally, the canon has typically excluded books written by cultural or ethnic minorities.”

Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries suggests these titles as some recent favorites that reflect a broad range of perspectives and ethnicities:


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