On a Wing and a Tear

ON A WING AND A TEAR by Cynthia Leitich Smith, cover by Natasha Donovan (Heartdrum, Sept. 17, 2024). Ages 8 -12.

A living legend roosting in the backyard. An unmissable game. A hair-raising mystery. A road trip full of adventure and danger. And all the overlapping circles that connect us.

Melanie “Mel” Roberts is sensitive, bookish, and Muscogee-Odawa. Ray Halfmoon is upbeat, artistic, and Cherokee-Seminole. Since the Robertses became houseguests of the Halfmoons, the two have become practically like siblings.

Behind the bungalow where they live, Great-grandfather Bat has taken refuge in an old oak tree. He’s a living legend—having won the Great Ball Game for the Animals against the Birds way, way back when. A rematch is coming up quickly, but Great-grandfather Bat’s right wing has a tear in it. How will he heal up and make the long journey in time to play?

Fortunately, Grampa Charlie Halfmoon offers to drive Bat from Chicago down to the traditional playing field outside Macon, Georgia. Mel and Ray are determined to help Bat however they can, along with their plucky neighbor Gray Squirrel. Together, they all set off on a road trip—facing adventure, danger, and a hair-raising mystery—on the way to the historic game.

With loving care and boisterous humor, acclaimed author Cynthia Leitich Smith tells a modern folklore story about friendship, embracing the unexpected, and all the overlapping circles that connect us throughout Creation.

Published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Ray and Grampa Halfmoon also appear in INDIAN SHOES by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002/ Heartdrum, 2020, 2021) and “Between the Lines” by Cynthia Leitich Smith in ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS (Heartdrum, 2021).

Pre-Order ON A WING AND A TEAR by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Pre-Order Links: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Books a Million;

Depending on the title, Cynthia’s books may be found from Native bookstores like Birchbark Books and Native Arts and Red Planet Books and Comics, her local independent BookPeople in Austin, other terrific Texas bookstores like Blue Willow Bookshop and Brazos Bookstore, retail sites supporting indie bookstores like BookShop (Affiliate), IndieBound and (audio books), brick-and-mortar chains like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and online retailer (Author Central).

Awards and Honors

★ “A unique and noteworthy tale that weaves together past and present with humor through stellar, multilayered writing.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Combining humor, suspense, and a quiet reverence for one’s ancestry, Smith examines how the power of community can affect emotional and physical healing, and the strength it takes to do both.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

Cover Artist Bio

Natasha Donovan is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver, Canada, with a focus on comics and children’s illustration. Her short comic work has appeared in THIS PLACE: 150 YEARS RETOLD anthology (Portage and Main, 2018), and WONDER WOMEN OF HISTORY, edited by Laurie Halse Anderson (DC, 2021). She illustrates the award-winning children’s book series THE MOTHERS OF XSAN, written by Brett Huson. She was also the illustrator of the graphic novels SURVIVING THE CITY and FROM THE ROOTS UP, written by Tasha Spillet-Sumner, and the picture book biography CLASSIFIED: THE SECRET CAREER OF MARY GOLDA ROSS, CHEROKEE AEROSPACE ENGINEER, written by Traci Sorell. She also did the art for the graphic novel adaptation of Thomas King’s story, BORDERS, which was shortlisted for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. She has a BA from the University of British Columbia, and prior to illustration she worked in academic and magazine publishing. She lives with her American partner in Bellingham, Washington.

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September 2024 | 9780062870001; 0062870009 | Heartdrum | Hardcover