Crossing Bok Chitto
By Tim Tingle
Illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges
There is a river called Bok Chitto that cuts through Mississippi. In the days before the War Between the States, in the days before the Trail of Tears, Bok Chitto was a boundary. On one side of the river lived the Choctaws. On the other side lived the plantation owners and their slaves. If a slave escaped and made his way across Bok Chitto, the slave was free.
Thus begins Crossing Bok Chitto, told by award-winning Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle and brought to life with the rich illustrations of Jeanne Rorex Bridges.
Martha Tom, a young Choctaw girl, knows better than to cross Bok Chitto, but one day--in search of blackberries--she disobeys her mother and finds herself on the other side. A tall slave discovers Martha Tom. A friendship begins between Martha Tom and the slave's family, most particularly his young son, Little Mo. Soon afterwards, Little Mo's mother finds out that she is going to be sold. The situation seems hopeless, except that Martha Tom teaches Little Mo's family how to walk on water to their freedom.
About the Creators
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.
Photo: Lisa Reed
Jeanne Rorex Bridges traces her heritage back to her Cherokee ancestors. Born in Oklahoma, the artists' work is nationally known and has won many awards in Native American art shows, including the 2005 Best of Show at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. Crossing Bok Chitto is her first fully illustrated book.