Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Highly recommended: We Are Grateful/Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorell

I love to see Indigenous languages on book covers! Check out the cover of Traci Sorell's We Are Grateful/Otsaliheliga: 

What you see on that cover is the words "We Are Grateful" in English, and then in Cherokee, and also in the Cherokee syllabary. The illustrations in We Are Grateful are by Frané Lessac.

Sorell is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. The weekend of September 1st, she will be at the Cherokee National Holiday, signing her books. If you click on the link for the Cherokee National Holiday, and then go to the link for the online Google map tour, you'll see that there will be a lot of activities taking place that weekend. I'm pasting a screen cap of the book signing here, because it is WAY COOL!

The Google map on the Cherokee Nation that shows the cover of We Are Grateful, somehow, echoes what I see in the book. It is about a nation of people who go through each year, each day--really--being mindful of the world they're in, where they've come from, and why all of this is important to the well being of their community. With its seasonal arrangement, we see families planting gardens and playing in snow. In various ways, the events of the Cherokee National Holiday reflect the seasons, too.

What makes We Are Grateful exquisite is that Sorell's book touches on the Trail of Tears, naming of children, and the importance of listening to elders at the Cherokee National Holiday. These parts of the book are depicted in a matter of fact way. They aren't emotionally weighted--and they don't need to be. They are parts of the lives of Cherokee citizens. I think it is Sorell's identity that makes it possible for these parts of the story to work as beautifully as they do!

It is easy for me to say that We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, published in 2018 by Charlesbridge, is highly recommended!

Oh! You gotta take a look at this video... it is the Cherokee Nation choir singing Celebrate in Cherokee--and interspersed in the singing are the words you'll find in We Are Grateful! 

Congratulations, Traci Sorell! I look forward to reading a lot more, from you, in the coming years.


Ava Jarvis said...

Currently listening to the Native America Calling radio episode (program? I'm more familiar with podcasts) about the book. The author did a really beautiful reading that was so touching and wonderful. Another book to recommend to my local library.

Sam Juliano said...

Today at Fairview's No. 3 Annex, where my wife Lucille serves as Principal and I as children's literature instructor, 2018 Caldecott contender Frane Lessac (a favorite son who grew up in bordering Cliffside and graduated CPHS the same year as I did in 1972) and her husband author Mark Greenwood, collaborated on a spectacular smart board and drawing presentation that had First and Second grade students enthralled. We are all so honored that Frane, one of the most popular and accomplished students in high school, is a major contender this year for the Caldecott Medal for her ravishing art in "We Are Grafeful: Otsaliheliga" authored by Traci Sorell. We will be meeting Ms. Sorell tomorrow at the Warwick Book Festival, and I do look forward to speaking with her. This was an amazing debut for her and Lessac's vivid art brought these ravishing location to soulful realization. The first-graders in my school, largely Hispanic Americans were/are fascinated confirming what author Joseph Bruchac stated in his dust jacket recommendation.

Excellent capsule review and recommendation here!