76 pages 2 hours read

Tim Tingle

How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2013

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How I Became a Ghost

  • Genre: Fiction; middle grade historical fiction with supernatural elements
  • Originally Published: 2013
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile HL480L; grades 4-7
  • Structure/Length: 29 chapters; approx. 141 pages
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: Ten-year-old Isaac, now a ghost, tells the story of the Choctaw people’s removal from their land in Mississippi in 1830. After US soldiers burn their homes, Isaac and his family flee with other Choctaws into a nearby swamp, only to be followed by white soldiers offering smallpox-ridden blankets.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Violence against Native people; deaths of young characters

Tim Tingle, Author

  • Bio: Member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; grew up near Houston, Texas; great-great-grandson of John Carnes, who walked the Trail of Tears in 1835; earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas and his master’s degree in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma; based his book How I Became a Ghost on interviews with tribal elders gathered while retracing the route of the Trail of Tears; travels widely as a storyteller at festivals and schools
  • Other Works: Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom (2006); Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner (Book 1 of 3; 2013); House of Purple Cedar (2014); When a Ghost Talks, Listen (2017)
  • Awards: Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books (2013); American Indian Youth Literature Award, Best Middle Grade Book (2014)