Glenwood author’s latest book chosen for prestigious International Youth Library listing
'First Laugh' shares special Navajo family tradition
A baby’s first laugh is a special celebration within the Navajo Nation, where Glenwood Springs author Nancy Bo Flood has lived and taught in recent years.
“Whoever can make the child laugh for the first time is considered to have a special relationship to that child for life,” Flood explained. “A laugh is considered sacred and healing, and something that makes a baby fully human.”
The tradition is celebrated with a formal First Laugh Ceremony, which is an important time of sharing and bonding for Navajo families.
Flood shares that tradition in the children’s picture book, “First Laugh — Welcome Baby!”, which she authored with Rose Ann Tahe and was illustrated by Jonathan Nelson.
Now, it’s being shared globally.
The book was chosen as one of 200 international books to be featured on the White Raven List by the International Youth Library near Munich, Germany.
Founded in 1949, the IYL publishes its annual list of recommended titles from all regions of the world that meet the standards of literary quality and principles of cultural education.
This year’s White Ravens’ catalog features titles in 37 languages from 59 countries.
“First Laugh” tells the story, in words and pictures, about a family whose members take turns doing silly things to try to make the baby laugh.
Flood recently returned to Glenwood Springs with her husband, Bill Flood, after they had taught and worked on the Navajo reservation for 20 years.
While there, she met Tahe, with whom she co-authored “First Laugh,” and Nelson, a graphic designer from Hogback, Arizona. It’s his first picture book.
Sadly, Tahe died shortly before the book’s publication.
“I initially met her when I was teaching for Northern Arizona University on the reservation, helping teachers who were working toward their advanced degrees,” Flood said.
Tahe was working to obtain her reading instruction certification, and was part of a writing group that Flood started for those interested in writing children’s books.
“She grew up in a very traditional, very remote area and was fluent in both spoken and written Navajo,” she said of Tahe, who also was working to bring more children’s books to the reservation.
“First Laugh” was not initially translated into Navajo, but Flood hopes that may be a possibility in the future.
Another of her works, a Navajo calendar book titled, “Navajo Year — Walks Through Many Seasons,” is translated in Navajo via CD audiobook.
Others of Flood’s books are reservation-based, including “The Hogan that Great-Grandfather Built” and “Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo.”
She was also the official water author for the University of Utah for a period of time, during which she wrote “Sand to Stone and Back Again” and “Water Runs Through This Book.”
The International Youth Library was started by a German woman after the devastation of WWII as a way to promote peace and for children to gain awareness of different cultures.
“First Laugh” was also chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection, is a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, a 2018 Southwest Picks of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a Bank Street Best Book for 2018.
It is available locally at Glenwood Toys & Gifts in downtown Glenwood Springs, and online at http://www.nancyboflood.com.
Flood is currently completing her new book, titled “I Will Dance,” about a young girl with cerebral palsy who wants to dance.
Nancy Bo Flood has published almost 20 titles, including:
Young-adult novels: “Warriors in the Crossfire,” “Soldier Sister, Fly Home” and “No-Name Baby”
Non-fiction: “Sand To Stone” and “Water Runs Through This Book”
Collections of re-told legends: “Pacific Island Legends” and “Micronesian Island Legends”
Picture books: “The Navajo Year” and “The Hogan that Great Grandfather Built”
All of her titles can be found at http://www.nancyboflood.com.
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