Throwback Thursday — Indian Shoes

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Welcome to Throwback Thursday, Reader Friends! Today we’re featuring a story collection by Native American Author, Cynthia Leitich Smith. Indian Shoes was originally released in 2002 by Harper Collins. The book is recommended for children ages 7 and older.


 

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About the Book

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 take in rural Oklahoma.

Kirkus declared: “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 hailed: “a good book for any elementary-aged reluctant reader and a necessity for indigenous children everywhere.” INDIAN SHOES has been named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award, to the 2003 Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education; and to Choices 2003, Cooperative Children’s Book Center. It also was named to the NEA Native American Book List and the 2004-2005 Crown List. Most recently, INDIAN SHOES was chosen as the featured intermediate title for “Read On, Wisconsin!” (an online book club for students sponsored by the state’s First Lady) in March, 2005.

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My Thoughts About This Book:

Have you ever read a story collection where you told yourself as you finished reading each story, ‘That story was my favorite!’, only to read the next story to find yourself saying, ‘No, that one was definitely my favorite!’?

This is exactly what happened to me when I read this delightful collection of six short stories featuring young Ray Halfmoon and his grandfather, Grampa Halfmoon.

The pair currently live in Chicago, far from their relatives in Oklahoma. They are of Seminole and Cherokee descent. Grampa is raising Ray after Ray’s parents were tragically killed in a tornado.

Each story features incidents that happen in and around Chicago or in Oklahoma. Many of the stories have humorous scenes or humorous themes. Grampa’s feelings about life and his memories of the past are the underlying theme of each story. He enjoys sharing his family stories and cultural gems with Ray.

Grampa’s love and affection for Ray are evident in their daily activities and in the wisdom he exhibits for his grandson’s ups and downs and the challenges Ray faces in his young life. I admired the rapport between and the depth of their bond with each other and to their heritage.

The author’s use of higher-level vocabulary and her respect for the reader’s intelligence make this a great read for readers of all ages! I believe this would be an excellent read-aloud for families, classrooms, libraries, and youth/scout/church groups.
 
This collection was heartwarming and touching. I will be seeking out more of this author’s work to read in the future.
 

Highly-recommended to fans of Native American literature, diverse character fiction, family heritage fiction, historical fiction, and fiction where the main character is a male.

I borrowed this book from the New Book shelf in the children’s section of the local public library.
 

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About the Author

Cynthia’s fiction is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, and mid-to-southwestern settings. Still early in her career, she has shown tremendous range and loves to experiment.

Cynthia lives in Austin, Texas and is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. She also serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and leads the annual We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive.

Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. She studied law abroad at Paris-Sorbonne University.

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