Cynsational News, Links & Librarian-Educator Giveaway

On Nov. 11, I had the honor of speaking at the Norman Public Library as part of its Native American Festival. Also featured were Dr. Mary Jo Watson (Seminole), who is the Director of the OU School of Art, and Commander John Herrington (Chickasaw), who was a NASA Astronaut and flew on the space shuttle in 2002.

Highlights included a performance by the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, who are highly recommended.

I would like to thank Julie and everyone at the Norman Public Library/Pioneer Library System for including me in the event.

In his talk, John mentioned the need to encourage children and teenagers in their studies of math, science, and engineering.

Listening to him speak, I was struck in that moment by how different it was than the persistently historical (if not extinct) image of Native people in the mainstream world. It occurred to me to once again make an effort to raise awareness and celebrate that we are peoples of Nations with a past, present, and future as well as to build on John’s point.

So, from now until midnight Nov. 30, teachers, librarians, and university professors in related fields are invited to enter a giveaway contest for a copy of an Oklahoma Read Y’all poster featuring John (and signed by him) as well as a signed copy my tween novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), which is set in northeast Kansas and features characters originally from Oklahoma.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and featured at both the Second National Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival. In recognition of my writing it, I was named a 2001 Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. The story features an intertribal summer camp, focusing on science and technology, for Native teens.

Multicultural Review said: “This is a young adult novel with heart. The characters are real. Smith deftly tackles such dominant society icons and artifacts as football mascots, fake dreamcatchers, Elvis, Anime, Pez, cigar-store Indians and Barbie, and places them in a contemporary Indian cultural context alongside fried bologna sandwiches, two-steps, and star quilts.”

School Library Journal said: “There is a surprising amount of humor in this tender novel. 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.'”

To enter, send me an email with the subject line “Native Now,” and, in the body of the message, (a) your name; (b) your snail mail address; (c) whether you’re a teacher or librarian; (d) and the name of your school or library.

Please feel free to spread the word about this giveaway!

I will send out the items during the first week in December to encourage study and celebration beyond November and into the new year!

More News & Links

Congratulations to Sherman Alexie, author The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown), for winning the National Book Award! Finalists were: Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One (Atheneum)(author interview); M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum); Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic); Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown)(author interview). Read Cynsations interviews with Kathleen and Sara. Rita Williams-Garcia interviews the National Book Award finalists: Sherman Alexie; Kathleen Duey; M. Sindy Felin; Brian Selznick; and Sara Zarr. See Cynsations interviews with Rita, Kathleen, and Sara.

Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma: a statewide literary celebration to mark Oklahoma’s centennial.

Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2007 from the New York Times. Presented in a gorgeous slide-show format. A required link for picture book and art lovers!

Congratulations to Jane Peddicord, author of the month for all Austin area Barnes & Noble stores! Jane’s latest book is That Special Little Baby, illustrated by Meilo So (Harcourt, 2007). Jane will be reading and signing at 11 a.m. Nov. 24 at the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble.

Austin SCBWI is sponsoring a holiday book fair, featuring several of its published members Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lakeline Barnes & Noble. Bring this PDF form with you to enter drawings for free books and school supplies. Note: Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it this weekend, but I’m certainly cheering everyone on!

Reminder: Austin SCBWI offers a great line-up for its April 26 conference. Speakers include: author and editor Deborah Noyes Wayshak from Candlewick Press (author-editor interview); Alvina Ling from Little Brown (personal blog); agent Erin Murphy (interview from by Pam Mingle from Kite Tales, Rocky Mountain chapter, SCBWI); artist’s agent Christina Tugeau; and writing professor Peter Jacobi. See details at Austin SCBWI.

More Personally

While in Norman, Greg and I stayed at the Montford Inn, which is lovely and located just across the street from the library. We also greatly enjoyed dining at Benvenuti’s on Main Street.

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from WORD: the official blog of READ and WRITING magazines. Note: focus is on my short story, “A Real Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate,” which appears in the current issue of Read. See Nov. 15 blog entry.

Attention, Austinites! Greg and I will be reading Santa Knows, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006) at 1 p.m. Dec. 2 at Barnes & Noble Westlake.

From the flap copy: “Who knows if you’ve been naughty or nice? Santa knows, that’s who! But not everyone believes in Santa Claus. Consider Alfie F. Snorklepuss. He thinks he’s proven that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Alfie thinks there is no way that Santa could do all the things he’s supposed to, like deliver billions of presents all over the world in one night or know what every little kid wants. When Alfie starts spreading the word that there is no Santa Claus, he makes someone very unhappy: his little sister Noelle. And so Noelle turns to the only person who can help her. The one person Alfie thinks doesn’t exist: Santa Claus. Ho, ho, ho!”

If you would like a signed bookplate for Santa Knows, just write me with “Santa Knows” in the subject line, and both your snail mail address and any personalization information in the body of the email. Visit!