Cyn’s Realistic Children’s Lit

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

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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.

  • NCSS Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
  • Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters
  • CCBC Choice
  • NCSA Children’s Crown Award List
  • NEA Native American Book List
  • 2003 Bank Street Best Books List
  • Saratoga Reads All-City Read
  • Featured Title, Texas Book Festival

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

— The Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books 

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

— Cooperative Children’s Book Center

“…from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. An excellent choice for younger readers.”  

— Kirkus Reviews

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

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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.

  • Reading Is Fundamental 2011 Multicultural Books List
  • Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Selector’s Choice for 2001 
  • 2001 Texas Library Association 2 x 2 Reading List (two through second grade) 
  • Finalist, Oklahoma Book Award (children’s/YA division)
  • Runner-up, the Western Writers Association Storyteller Award
  • CCBC Choice for 2001 
  • “Debuts That Deliver” (Book Magazine) 
  • Editor’s Choice, Library Talk 
  • Read Across Texas Bibliography (Texas State Library and Archives Commission) 
  • “Best Multicultural Children’s Books for Early Childhood Educators” (Montessori Life) 
  • Suggested Title, Recommended Native Literature for Youth Reading Circles from American Experience: “We Shall Remain,” PBS, April 2009
  • Recommended Title, Great Books for Girls by Kathleen Odean (Ballantine, 2002) 
  • Listed Title, Talk Story: sharing stories, sharing culture: a joint project of the American Indian Library Association and the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association 
  • Featured Title, Native American Children’s Literature Reading List (First Nations Development Institute)
Copyright Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu.

 “Watercolor paintings in bright, warm tones fill each page. …a modern girl in the suburban homes of her intertribal community and as one of many traditionally costumed participants at the powwow will give some readers a new view of a contemporary Native American way of life.”  

 — School Library Journal  

“…a treasure, one that I love to share with friends, colleagues, students, and others who look for the best children’s books about American Indians.” 

— American Indians in Children’s Literature  

“Engaging colors and flowing words make this book a joy to read over and over.”  

— ALA/OLOS Subcommittee for Library Services to American Indian People/American Indian Library Association (2007)