Cyn's Children's Books

Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins and Listening Library, 2001)(ages 10-up). Note: available for unabridged audio download.

The next day was my fourteenth birthday, and I'd never kissed a boy -- domestic style or French. Right then, I decided to get myself a teen life.

Cassidy Rain Berghoff didn't know that the very night she decided to get a life would be the night that Galen would lose his.

It's been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia's Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again -- at least through the lens of her canera.

Hired by her town newspaper to photograph the campers, Rain soon finds that she has to decide how involved She wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from the intertribal community she belongs to? And just how willing is she to connect with the campers after her great loss?

In a voice that resonates with insight and humor, Cynthia Leitich Smith tells of heartbreak, recovery, and reclaiming one's place in the world.

"Tender, funny, and full of sharp wordplay..." 
—Kirkus Reviews

"It is one of the best portrayals around of kids whose heritage is mixed but still very important in their lives. It's Rain's story and she cannot be reduced to simple labels. A wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her 'patch-work tribe.'"  
—School Library Journal 

Rain Is Not My Indian Name was an Oklahoma Book Award finalist and earned Cynthia the title of 2001 Writer of the Year from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

The novel was featured at the National Book Festival. The audio production was aired as the November 2005 Book of the Month by Red Tales, Aboriginal Voices Radio, The Earth 106.5 (based in Canada).

See excerpt, more reviews, more awards and honors, chapter insights (sidebar), reading group guide, and word-find puzzle.





Indian Shoes, illustrated by Jim Madsen (HarperCollins, 2002)(ages 7-up).

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins...or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?

Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa. After all, it's Grampa Halfmoon who's always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes — like the time they are forced to get creative after a homemade haircut makes Ray's head look like a lawn-mowing accident.

This collection of interrelated stories is heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about what it's like to grow up as a Seminole-Cherokee boy who is just as happy pounding the pavement in windy Chicago as rowing on a lake in rural Oklahoma.

"A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. An excellent choice for younger readers." 
—Kirkus Reviews

"...a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere." 
—School Library Journal

Indian Shoes has been named a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award, to the 2003 Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education; and to Choices 2003, Cooperative Children's Book Center. It also was named to the NEA Native American Book List and the 2004-2005 Crown List.

Indian Shoes was chosen as the featured intermediate title for "Read On, Wisconsin!" (an online book club for students sponsored by the state's First Lady) in March, 2005.

See author audio introduction and reading, excerpt, more reviews, more awards and honors, reading group guide, and readers theater play script.

Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)(ages 4-up).

Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art.

Jingle Dancer was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award, runner-up for the Western Writers Association Storyteller Award, and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. It was also named to the Texas 2 X 2 List. Book magazine named it among “Debuts that Deliver.”

"The way Jenna gathers her jingles (borrowing enough to make a row, but not so many that the lender's dress will 'lose its voice', and her promise to dance for the women who cannot dance for themselves illustrate the importance of family and community ties."
—Booklist

"Their easy integration of Native and standard furnishings and clothing gracefully complement Smith's heartening portrait..." 
—Publishers Weekly

See more reviews, more awards and honors, featured illustration, and teacher guide.
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