Chief Sky, looking for a new leader for his people, sends three young men to the top of the distant mountaintop, to bring him back what they find there. One, who goes part way up the mountain, finds lodes of valuable stones, and brings one back. The second goes a little farther, and returns after he finds forests of healing herbs. The last man brings nothing in his hands—he returns late, torn and bleeding, and tells that from the top of the mountain he could see beyond the valley and to the next mountain, where he saw a smoke signal calling for help. Chief Sky makes this man chief, saying, “We need one who has seen beyond the mountain to other people who are in need.” Bannon, who worked with the late Reverend Bushyhead and heard him tell this story in English and Cherokee, retells it here in clear and straightforward prose that reads well aloud. She includes a few words in Cherokee, repeated in a short glossary at the end. Though she says, “The translations have been specially written using the English alphabet so that you can sound them out,” there is no pronunciation guide for such words as “Yo:na” or “Uwoha?li.” A foreword by Joseph Bruchac sets this in a historical context, pointing out that this teaching story is not among those popularized by James Mooney’s classic 1900 translations of Cherokee stories, but is a classic told from generation to generation. Rodanas’s (The Little Drummer Boy, 2002, etc.) realistic color pencil and watercolor illustrations in rich autumn colors depict the specific dress and homes of the early Eastern Woodland Cherokee. Though this isn’t a title that will jump out at young readers, teachers looking for Native American folktales will appreciate this as a group read-aloud. (Folktale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7614-5113-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. Ray and his Grampa Halfmoon live in Chicago, but Grampa comes from Oklahoma. Six vignettes make up the short chapters. Among them: Ray finds a way to buy Grampa the pair of moccasins that remind him of home and Smith gets in a gentle jab at the commercialization of Native American artifacts. At a Christmas stuck far away from the Oklahoma relatives the pair finds comfort and joy even when the electricity goes out, and in a funny sequence of disasters, a haircut gone seriously awry enables a purple-and-orange dye job to be just the ticket for little-league spirit. The language is spare, clean, and rhythmic, with a little sentimentality to soften the edges. Ray and Grampa have a warm and loving intergenerational bond that’s an added treat. With a nod toward contemporary Native Americans, Grampa tells Cherokee and Seminole family stories, and when Ray gets to be in a wedding party, the groom is Polish-Menominee and his bride is Choctaw. An excellent choice for younger readers from the author of the bittersweet Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029531-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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Trisha is ready to start at a new school, where no one will know she has dyslexia. At first, she is heartbroken to be in Miss Peterson’s special-ed class, aka, “the junkyard.” But Miss Peterson treats the children as anything but junk, showing them that everyone has a unique talent. Polacco’s trademark style is fully present here; her sensitively drawn alter ego shines with depth of feeling. When bullying occurs, Miss Peterson proves her students are worthwhile by planning a junkyard field trip, where they find valuable objects to be used in exciting ways. Trisha’s group repairs a plane, and the class buys an engine for it. Then a beloved class member dies, and the children must find a way to honor him. While the plot meanders somewhat, the characters are appealing, believable and provide a fine portrayal of a truly special class. Children will be drawn in by the story’s warmth and gentle humor and will leave with a spark of inspiration, an appreciation of individual differences and a firm anti-bullying message, all underscored by the author’s note that concludes the book. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25078-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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