We Are Grateful : Otsaliheliga
by Sorell, Traci; Lessac, Frane (ILT)






Follows a full year of Cherokee celebrations and experiences, describing how the Cherokee Nation expresses thanks and reflects on struggles all year long.





Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

Frané Lessac is the illustrator of more than forty books for children. She has lived on the small Caribbean island of Montserrat, in London, and in Australia, and her work has taken her on many adventures in numerous countries. www.franelessac.com





In Cherokee culture, Sorell shares, the expression of gratitude is part of daily life and extends from elaborate celebrations to struggles to ordinary life moments. She organizes her debut picture book by seasons, beginning with the fall, which is a time for collecting foliage for basket making and remembering those who suffered on the Trail of Tears. It also contains the Cherokee New Year and the Great New Moon Ceremony, a celebration of renewal and coming together. Each season section starts with the name of the season in Cherokee, an expression of gratitude for the change in nature, and subsequent pages describing community activities pertinent to that season. Lessac's folkloric illustrations in bright gouache colors stand in pleasing contrast to the book's contemporary feel and setting. The text reads like poetry but has a gentle instructional dimension to it. On many pages, Cherokee words are accompanied by English translations, pronunciation guides, and Cherokee syllabary. Back matter contains relevant explanations and provides good context, and the author's note sets past misrepresentations right. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





According to storyteller Sorell, the Cherokee people always express gratitude for the little things they are given by saying the phrase, "Otsaliheliga," or "we are grateful." Raised in the Cherokee Nation, Sorell intentionally crafts a narrative that simultaneously embraces modernity and a traditional presentation of Cherokee community and way of life. Throughout, the measured text reminds readers that in all things "we say otsaliheliga." Colorful, folk art-style illustrations show Cherokee people during ceremonies, in family gatherings large and small, and outdoors enjoying each of the four seasons, always expressing gratitude. The scenes are contemporary; one shows a father taking care of his children, engaging in a positive parenting role, while another depicts a family seeing off a relative who is leaving for deployment in the military, underscoring that Cherokee people serve their country. Children participate in rites and in family outings with adults, and they also pl ay traditional games such as stickball and plant strawberries, a practice that reminds their people to embrace peace with one another. The variety of skin tones represented in the illustrations likewise depicts a present-day reflection of the diversity that exists within the Cherokee people. Occasional Cherokee words are written in Romanized form, phonetically, in Cherokee characters, and in English—a lovely grace note. A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude. (glossary, author's note, Cherokee syllabary) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





Uligohvsdi – Fall
 
When cool breezes blow and leaves fall, we say otsaliheliga…
…as shell shakers dance all night around the fire, and burnt cedar’s scent drifts upward during the Great New Moon Ceremony.
…as we clean our house, wear new clothes, enjoy a feast, and forget old quarrels to welcome the Cherokee New Year.






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