The 10th Anniversary of Indian Shoes

My “grandpa” book.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Indian Shoes (HarperCollins) celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. The chapter book, illustrated by Jim Madsen, is a collection of humorous, touching short stories, celebrating the daily life of a young boy, Ray, and his Grampa Halfmoon–their adventures in the city of Chicago and tribal town Oklahoma.

Though urban Indians make up the majority of the Native community in the United States, Indian Shoes is one of very, very few children’s books that reflect that experience.

Authors tend to have themes in our work, and “inter-generational relationships” would be near the top of my list. I tend to think of my first book, Jingle Dancer, as my “grandma” book and Indian Shoes as my “grandpa” book. However, Aunt Georgia from Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Nora from the Tantalize series clearly carry on that tradition.

That said, Indian Shoes is the book I dedicated to my grandparents. I’m honored that it’s still connecting with young readers. Thanks to all for your support.

Indian Shoes Reviews & Resources

My “grandma” book.

BCCB: “So permeated with affection that many readers will just bask in the warmth and envy Ray his cool Grampa.”

CCBC: “An excellent collection of interrelated short stories will appeal to newly independent young readers ready to tackle one or more of these accessible stories.”

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

School Library Journal: “Shoes is a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader, and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere.”

Multicultural Review: “These stories are goofy, quirky, and laugh-out-loud funny, and poignant, sometimes all together. Indian Shoes is about belonging to family and community, about helping neighbors, about learning life’s lessons, and about sometimes feeling different but most times knowing who you are in the world.”

Booklist: “The stories’ strength lies in their powerful, poignant evocation of a cross-generational bond and in the description of the simple pleasures two charming characters enjoy.”

BookPage: “Images of sitting around the kitchen table with the smell of bacon frying are almost palpable, and the relationship between these two [Ray and Grampa] is as heartwarming to see as an old family photo album.”

Check out the Indian Shoes Reading Guide and the free Indian Shoes Readers Theater.

Writers & Illustrators! Is there an Indian college or community center or nation in the region served by your SCBWI chapter?
Next time you’re promoting an event, please consider sending a flyer or a few
brochures to the local Native community. Reach out, welcome, encourage.

See also The 10th Anniversary of Rain Is Not My Indian Name: Reflections on a Debut Novel (book trailer below) and The 10 Anniversary of Jingle Dancer.

Shayne Leighton | Myspace Video

3 thoughts on “The 10th Anniversary of Indian Shoes

  1. Happy Birthday to Indian Shoes. Congratulations, Cyn, that this important story is still being bought and loved and touching lives!

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