The award-winning picture book Crossing Bok Chitto captured the strength, bravery, and heart of the Choctaw Nation as they helped enslaved people find their way to freedom. Set to be released at the end of this month, Stone River Crossing (Tu Books) by acclaimed Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle, is the new middle grade expansion that illuminates a snapshot of Native and African American history, reminding readers that the strongest bridge between cultures is friendship.
Martha Tom knows better than to cross the Bok Chitto River to pick blackberries. The Bok Chitto is the only border between her town in the Choctaw Nation and the slave-owning plantation in Mississippi territory. The slave owners could catch her, too. What was she thinking? But crossing the river brings a surprise friendship with Lil Mo, a boy who is enslaved on the other side. When Lil Mo discovers that his mother is about to be sold and the rest of his family left behind. But Martha Tom has the answer: cross the Bok Chitto and become free.
Crossing to freedom with his family seems impossible with slave catchers roaming, but then there is a miracle—a magical night where things become unseen and souls walk on water. By morning, Lil Mo discovers he has entered a completely new world of tradition, community, and . . . a little magic. But as Lil Mo’s family adjusts to their new life, danger waits just around the corner.
Author Tim Tingle says Stone River Crossing is based on stories “documented in the Indian way, told and retold and then passed on by uncles and grandmothers” among the Choctaw people. “This book extends my tribute in Crossing Bok Chitto to the Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Seminoles—and Indians of every nation—who aided people escaping from bondage.”
Stone River Crossing has already received three starred reviews from major review journals:
★ “This vital story will deepen readers’ understanding of the nation’s complex history.” —Kirkus Reviews
★ “Richly descriptive and leavened with humor, Tingle’s complex novel offers valuable insights into rarely told history.” —Publishers Weekly
★ “[Stone River Crossing] is a potent mix of history, folkways, and friendship, often wrapped in a gossamer web of magic realism. The book soars, almost literally, when Lil Mo’s soul is stolen by an Owl Man, a witch, whose dramatic machinations, along with those of other spirit-filled characters, give this an indelible glow.” —Booklist
Tim Tingle is an Oklahoma Choctaw and an award-winning author and storyteller of twenty books. In 1993, he retraced the Trail of Tears to Choctaw homelands in Mississippi and began recording stories of tribal elders. From talks with Archie Mingo emerged Crossing Bok Chitto, Tingle’s first illustrated children’s book. This history-based tale is the inspiration for Stone River Crossing. The plot is filled with elements of Choctaw culture, plus a colorful dash of Choctaw magic realism. Tingle lives in Texas.