Posts Tagged Traci Sorell

New Releases: April 2021

April is a marvelous month for getting out of the house as the weather gets warmer. Whether you’re relaxing on your porch or exploring nature, there are several new releases for you to bring along. So, grab a book and head for the great outdoors! (Mouse over the titles for a link to purchase from our Bookshop page.)


Up first, we’re pleased to feature our own Jennifer Swanson’s brand-new book for explorers and collectors:

Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil, and Shell Hunting: The Definitive Interactive Nature Guide by Jennifer Swanson

Writer Jennifer Swanson and artist John D. Dawson invite you to rewild your life! With metal corners and 448 full-color pages, Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil & Shell Hunting is an indispensable tool for young explorers and rock collectors.

Make every day an adventure with the included:
– Immersive activities to get you exploring
– Write-in sections to journal about experiences
– Next-level adventures to challenge even seasoned nature lovers

No experience is required―only curiosity and courage. This interactive field guide to rocks, fossils, & shells, includes:
-Digging, chiseling, hammering, and wading for rocks and minerals
-Identifying rocks & minerals by location, texture, color, shape and size
-Determining between rocks, geodes, and space rocks
-Finding fossils and setting up a dig site
-Searching and snorkeling for shells
-Storing and displaying your collection
And so much more!


Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suárez. For science she’s got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be as smart as her brother, Roli. She’s been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she’s tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball.

One thing is for sure, though: Merci Suárez can’t dance—not at the Heart Ball or anywhere else. Dancing makes her almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.


It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Emmett and his older brother Luke have always been “Batman and Robin,” though they’re quick to bicker about who’s who. Spending the summer at a historic Black summer camp seems like a wonderful adventure for the two to share, but since Luke is there as a junior counselor, he seems to spend all of his time being everyone else’s big brother, and ignoring Emmett.

As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the “It Takes A Village” entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of “superfriends,” who’ll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family. It Doesn’t Take a Genius is inspired by the feature film Boy Genius, starring Miles Brown, Rita Wilson, and Nora Dunn.


The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam

Many years ago, in the kingdom of Fenwood Reach, there was a powerful Windwitch who wove the seasons, keeping the land bountiful and the people happy. But then a dark magic drove her from the realm, and the world fell into chaos.

Brida is content in her small village of Oak Hollow. There, she’s plenty occupied trying to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to in her work as a hedgewitch’s apprentice—until she accidentally catches the attention of the wicked queen.

On the run from the queen’s huntsman and her all-seeing Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and who she is destined to be—and that she may hold the power to defeating the wicked queen and setting the kingdom right again.


Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope

Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mother’s death. But staying away from the sea isn’t easy on his tropical island home where he’s stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Dagan, the brawn to Noa’s brains.

When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for other kingdoms in search of help. But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noa’s worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the map’s confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.


War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect–but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie’s sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn’t be more of a pain if she tried. It’s all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still–there’s sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire–even if she doesn’t have the guts to talk to him.

It’s a time of sunshine, siblings, and stress. Will Millie be able to find her way in her family, and keep her balance as the the world around her loses its own?



The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman

Any child can spark magic, but only the elite are allowed to kindle it. Those denied access to the secrets of the kindling ritual will see their magic snuffed out before their thirteenth birthday.

Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic is the best kindling school in New York City―and wealthy twelve-year-old Emma Harris is accustomed to the best. But when her father dies, leaving her penniless, Emma is reduced to working off her debts to Miss Posterity alongside Izzy, a daring servant girl who refuses to let her magic be snuffed out, even if society dictates she must. Emma and Izzy reluctantly form a pact: If Izzy teaches Emma how to survive as a servant, Emma will reveal to Izzy what she knows about magic.

Along the way, they encounter quizzes that literally pop, shy libraries, and talking cats (that is, house dragons). But when another student’s kindling goes horribly wrong, revealing the fiery dangers of magic, Emma and Izzy must set aside their differences or risk their magic being snuffed out forever.


The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon

Mickey is angry all the time: at his divorced parents, at his sister, and at his two new stepmoms, both named Charlie. And so he can’t resist the ad inside his pack of gum: “Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Buy The Anti-Book! Satisfaction guaranteed.” He orders the book, but when it arrives, it’s blank–except for one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the pages with all the things and people he dislikes . . .

Next thing he knows, he’s wandering an anti-world, one in which everything and everyone familiar is gone. Or are they? His sister soon reappears–but she’s only four inches tall. A tiny talking house with wings looks strangely familiar, as does the mysterious half-invisible boy who seems to think that he and Mickey are best buds. The boy persuades Mickey to go find the Bubble Gum King–the king, who resides at the top of a mountain, is the only one who might be able to help Mickey fix the mess he’s made.


Thornlight by Claire Legrand

Resourceful twin sisters and a desperate queen must find a new source of magic to stop their kingdom from being consumed by darkness. Centuries and centuries ago, the Vale was split in two in a war between witches. Ever since, an evil darkness has been climbing, climbing, climbing out of the Break, infecting everything it touches. The people of the Vale fight it with discs made of lightning—and with an ancient spell. Brier Skystone is the youngest, most talented lightning harvester the Vale’s ever seen. Her twin sister, Thorn, is a sensitive artist who’s braver than even she knows. And young Queen Celestyna Hightower is determined to be Mender of the Break, the last of her family to bear the weight of anchoring the spell—which is really more of a curse.

As the darkness keeps coming, these three girls will each undertake their own perilous journeys to try to save their home—and each quest reveals an electrifying surprise. Perhaps they’ve been fighting the wrong monster all along. Claire Legrand creates an intricate and layered world full of unicorns, witches, mistbirds, grifflets, and unlikely heroes—with an appearance by the legendary witch Quicksilver Foxheart. This stand-alone companion to Foxheart explores what it means to be brave, and the destructive force of war on nature and community


Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera

Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits roam the desert and threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.

When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans and agrees to help her on her journey.

With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.


A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight by Jen White

Cora is constantly counting the minutes. It’s the only thing that stops her brain from rattling with worry, from convincing her that danger is up ahead. Afraid of the unknown, Cora spends her days with her feet tucked into sand, marveling at La Quinta beach’s giant waves and her little sister Sunshine’s boundless energy.

And then danger really does show up at Cora’s doorstep―her absentee uncle, whose sudden presence in the middle of the night makes her parents nervous and secretive. As dawn breaks once more, Cora must piece together her family and herself, one minute at a time.

A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is an endearing and revelatory middle-grade novel that is perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.



Warriors: The Broken Code #5: The Place of No Stars by Erin Hunter

The time has come to return to the Dark Forest. ThunderClan’s deputy, Squirreflight, has vanished with the cat now known to be an impostor, sowing suspicion and mistrust among the five Clans. The cause of their ancestors’ silence is finally clear—but so is the terrifying truth of the danger they must face if they hope to bring light back to the darkness . . .

Packed with action and intrigue, this sixth Warriors series is the perfect introduction for readers new to the Warriors world, while dedicated fans will be thrilled to discover the new adventures that unfold after the events of A Vision of Shadows.




Aru Shah and the City of Gold: A Pandava Novel Book 4 by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras.

Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wishes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her.

Aru also isn’t sure she still wants to fight on behalf of the devas in the war against the Sleeper and his demon army. The gods have been too devious up to now. Case in point: Kubera, ruler of the city of gold, promises to give the Pandavas two powerful weapons, but only if they win his trials. If they lose, they won’t stand a chance against the Sleeper’s troops, which will soon march on Lanka to take over the Otherworld. Aru’s biggest question, though, is why every adult she has loved and trusted so far has failed her. Will she come to peace with what they’ve done before she has to wage the battle of her life?


Greystone Secrets #3: The Messengers
 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past.

Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US. . . .

The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too.

After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control.


Shortcuts (Sanity & Tallulah 3) by Molly Brooks

Tallulah is great at piloting! And with her learner’s permit freshly reinstated, she has the perfect opportunity to prove it: filling in on the mail route to nearby stations while all the regular pilots are out sick. It’s her first big solo flight, and yeah, okay, her parking could use some work, but she’s not even a little bit nervous—she’s got Sanity along as copilot, plenty of old flight logs for navigation, and they’ll be in radio contact with Wilnick almost the whole time. All they have to do is follow the pre-approved route and stay out of the dangerous, uncharted, explosives-littered debris cloud . . . no matter how tempting a shortcut it is. Oh, and don’t cross the military blockade into the United Territories, obviously. See? No sweat!

Sanity and Tallulah’s pre-approved route didn’t say anything about space stations exploding, enemies in need of rescue, or getting caught in the middle of a border crisis in danger of escalating into all-out war, but sometimes totally awesome pilots have to change plans on the fly, and only an excellent copilot can keep things from going completely upside down.



The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing

After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.

Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . .

A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)


Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick

Magic Olive Poindexter has big shoes to fill. Her mother was a professional cheerleader, her father is a retired NBA legend, her big sister is the new face of the oh-so-glamorous Laker Girls, and her grandmother was the first black cheerleader ever on Valentine Middle School’s HoneyBee cheer squad. Magic wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps. But first, she has to survive Planet Pom Poms, the summer cheer camp where she’ll audition for a spot on the HoneyBee squad. But with zero athletic ability and a group of mean girls who have her number, Tragic Magic is a long way from becoming the toe-touching cheerleader heroine she dreams of being.

Things start to look up when her best friend Cappie joins her at camp—until Cappie gets bitten by the popularity bug, that is. To make matters worse, Magic’s crushing hard on football star Dallas Chase. Luckily, Magic’s not alone: with the help of a new crew of fabulous fellow misfits and her Grammy Mae’s vintage pom poms by her side, Tragic Magic might just survive—and even thrive—at cheer camp.


Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

Everyone knows that twelve-year-old Madison “Madi” Lewis is not allowed to bring home any more animals. After she’s saved hairless mice, two birds, a rabbit, and a stray tom cat that ended up destroying the front porch, Madi’s parents decide that if they find one more stray animal in the house, she won’t be allowed to meet Jane Goodall at an upcoming gala event.

But when Madi and her two best friends, Aaron and Jack, rescue beaver kits whose mother was killed, they find themselves at the center of a local conspiracy that’s putting the beavers and their habitats in danger.

As Madi and her friends race to uncover the threat targeting the beavers, Madi must put her animal whisperer skills to the test in both raising the orphaned beaver kits and staying out of trouble long enough.



We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, author, Frane Lessac, illustrator

Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.


Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya

Welcome to the Fungarium! Step into the world of fungi and learn all about these strange and fascinating life-forms.

Illustrator Katie Scott returns to the Welcome to the Museum series with exquisite, detailed images of some of the most fascinating living organisms on this planet—fungi.

Exploring every sort of fungi, from the kinds we see on supermarket shelves to those like penicillium that have shaped human history, this collection is the definitive introduction to what fungi are and just how vital they are to the world’s ecosystem.




13 Things Strong Kids Do: Think Big, Feel Good, Act Brave by Amy Morin

Do you worry that you don’t fit in? Do you feel insecure sometimes? Do you wish your life looked as perfect as everyone else on social media? Do you have anxiety about things you can’t control? Being a tween can be really hard, especially in today’s world.

You balance it all—homework, extracurricular activities, chores, friendship drama, and family, all while trying to give the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing. Sometimes when we try to look perfect on the outside, we can feel rotten in the inside.  Do you want to become a stronger person, inside and out? By picking up this book, you’re already taking the first step toward becoming a better person where it counts—by training your brain.

Prominent psychotherapist and social worker Amy Morin offers relatable scenarios, then shows tweens the ways they can develop healthy habits, build mental strength, and take action toward becoming their best selves. 13 Things Strong Kids Do gives tweens the tools needed to overcome life’s toughest challenges.


Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones

Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she’s alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They’ve already lost their parents and Great Grammy–they can’t lose each other, too.

The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can’t even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they’ll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!

This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they’re missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy’s survival treats.





Book Spotlight: Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis & Traci Sorell is an exceptional and unique middle-grade historical fiction set in Oregon and Southern California in 1957-58. It’s an entertaining and realistic look at 10-year-old Regina Petit’s Umpqua Nation life on their Grand Ronde reservation in Oregon and their eventual termination. 

After the Umpqua’s termination by the government, the story follows Regina’s extended family’s exodus from Grand Ronde to Los Angeles after the Umpqua termination to begin life, as her father says, as Americans. Regina experiences the trials and tribulations of trying to fit into her new Los Angeles neighborhood where nothing is familiar while navigating three big questions: Am I Indian? Am I American? Am I both?

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Indian No More gives the reader an important glimpse into what it was like to be a member of a tribal nation targeted by the government for termination. Among other things, the termination policy ended the government’s recognition of tribal sovereignty, allowed the government to step away from their financial commitments from previous treaties, and established themselves as custodians over their land. Those native peoples affected, mainly against their will, were thrown into a mainstream society they really didn’t want to be thrown into and generally weren’t prepared to handle. For more background on U.S. Termination Policy, check out the wiki and the reference resources listed

The switch from the relative comfort of the Umpqua Grand Ronde reservation to the discomforts at the house on 58th Place in LA is emotionally felt as one reads the book. Both places have similar fundamental issues of poverty and racism, but one is home and the other is completely foreign to Regina. Falling back on her own Umpqua experience and move to Los Angeles, Charlene Willing McManis masterfully takes us on a journey of family, friendships, and fitting in among an often cruel racial backdrop of late 1950s America. 

Sadly, author Charlene Willing McManis passed away on May 1, 2018. She left the revision responsibility and the publication journey in the capable hands of her friend and talented author, Traci Sorell. To get an idea about who Charlene was as both a writer and a human, Traci agreed to answer a few questions about her and the process of directing Indian No More to publication. 

Charlene Willing McManis

How and when did you first meet Charlene?

I first met Charlene at Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference in April 2016. All of the Native writers attending sat together at lunch and marveled to be at a kidlit conference where there were so many of us. That never happens! So we all said we’d be back again the following year.
Charlene and I became fast friends that day and stayed in touch after the conference. She got cancer after that and could not attend the 2017 Kweli conference, but she received treatment. I interviewed her for Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog when Charlene sold Indian No More to Tu Books that fall. All the Native writers cheered when they heard the news!



Traci Sorell

What was the process of taking over Indian No More after Charlene’s much-too-early passing in May of 2018?

In late January 2018, Charlene posted on Facebook that her cancer had come back and could not be cured. She did not have long to live. I sat there in shock for a few minutes. Then I immediately reached out to her. I cried the rest of the day, not wanting to accept that my joyful friend and her family had just received such devastating news.
In early March, Charlene emailed that her publisher, Stacy Whitman, asked if Charlene could recommend anyone to finish the revisions needed to get Indian No More published. Charlene wrote and said that she immediately thought of me and sent me the manuscript. While honored and humbled, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of revising a historical fiction middle grade novel in prose. I knew it was not autobiographical, but it was informed by her childhood and that of the experiences of her fellow tribal members. It seemed way out of my league. I had only written picture books and poetry to that point. And I’m from a completely different Native Nation with a different language, culture and history.
I quickly sent Charlene’s novel to my agent, Emily Mitchell, without reading it. As a former children’s book editor, I knew she could evaluate whether I would be able to pull it off. She responded that I could absolutely do this. I then read it and fell in love with the voice of the main character, Regina. I wanted to finish this book for my friend.

The responsibility of guiding this important story to publication must have been difficult. How did you manage and find the proper footing to continue Charlene’s vision of the book? Did you have any members of the Umpqua turn to?

I’m not going to lie. Very difficult. Normally when you co-author a piece, there is someone there to ask questions to, throw ideas out with and take turns drafting or revising sections. I only had her written words. Thankfully, the voice of Regina captivated me as soon as I started reading. I felt like I could write in Regina’s voice. I understood each character’s back story enough that I was able to revise and not lose their essence on the page. But I needed a lot of help and I got it.

Lee & Low, the parent company of the Tu Books imprint, supported my trip to visit the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (CTGR) in early January of this year. This Native Nation is comprised of 29 tribes that were removed to the Grand Ronde reservation in northwest Oregon from their own tribal homelands. Charlene’s tribe, the Umpqua, are part of CTGR. The Cultural Resources Department staff, led by David Harrelson, were top notch. I had full access to their archives and museum including a new exhibit of their cultural items on loan from the British Museum. They helped me ensure we used the correct Chinuk Wawa words in the book, which Regina’s grandmother speaks and teaches her granddaughters. The book would lack so much without their input.

My husband and mother also helped me fact check all late 1950s pop culture and daily life references in the book. They also read it out loud for me so I could hear what the prose sounded like, which greatly helped my revision process.

The termination policies of the United States Government were damaging, to say the least. Many of the terminated Native Nations, against all odds, recovered and re-established themselves. What message do you think this perseverance of heritage speaks to future generations who may have to deal with these issues again?

Yes, it was devastating when Congress passed the termination resolution stating it would be their policy to cease having a government-to-government relationship with some Native Nations that they had signed treaties and entered into other legal agreements with to uphold. Through a series of statutes that followed, the federal government terminated one hundred and nine tribes. They sold off the land and resources of these tribes. It led to many tribal citizens being displaced because they could not afford to buy the land they lived on outright at the marked-up prices. That’s what the main character Regina, her family and the Grand Ronde tribe experience in the story.

The neighborhood at 58th Place is so full of life, positive and negative, good and bad, kind and mean-spirited. It felt so incredibly real to me as I read the book and I think many readers will be like me and be completely immersed in this setting. How did Charlene and you go about crafting this “feel”? (It’s masterfully done, by the way.)

That was really all Charlene. I certainly crafted some scenes that needed to be fleshed out more, but because she had grown up there, her descriptions of the place are spot on. Her husband sent me photos of her in that neighborhood, so I had those around me as I worked. I visited with him and found out her entire block of 58th Place had been torn down to build a large supermarket mall. But the rest of 58th Place still remained. The three-story red brick school building had been replaced, but I got a black and white photo of it from the Los Angeles School District. So I felt like I was there as I revised the story. This summer when I attended the SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles, I went to Charlene’s old neighborhood and saw how close the houses are with their postage stamp yards, more concrete than grass, just as she describes.

The cover art is spectacular! Can you shed some light on the details of the cover art and design?

My editor, Elise McMullen-Ciotti, and the Tu Books publisher, Stacy Whitman, asked if I had any additional Native illustrators they could add to their established list. I gave them Marlena Myles’ name as she illustrated Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, a picture book poetry anthology, edited by Miranda Paul and published by Millbrook, in which I have a cinquain poem. I took a lot of photos when I visited Grand Ronde in Oregon from Spirit Mountain and the community plankhouse to their iconography in the art, museum and books I viewed there. I shared all of that with Marlena who is based in St. Paul, Minnesota, so she could take what she found useful to create the cover. Beyond that, she and the staff at Tu Books made the magic happen!

What do you think Charlene would say about the finished product and all the well-deserved accolades that Indian No More has garnered?

I assure you that Charlene would be smiling profusely as she always did. She would also thank so many people: her family for their support, her fellow Grand Ronde tribal citizens for sharing their termination and relocation experiences, all those who had helped hone her craft including her critique group, her mentor Margarita Engle, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Supriya Kelkar, those at Tu Books – Stacy Whitman, Elise McMullen-Ciotti – along with the rest of the Lee & Low staff, and the readers who have already said how much they enjoyed and learned from the book.
Charlene wanted to shine a light on a period of US history that is not taught in schools. Until now, there has not been a story for young people that shared what many Native Nations experienced at the same time as the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War. This book is now part of her legacy and I am grateful for that.

Author Katherine Quimby wrote an exceptional memorial tribute following Charlene’s death on the Cynsations Blog.

Final Note

One of my greatest hopes for this book is that educators, librarians, and adults who work with kids, will carefully read the chapters in Indian No More about media representation and the Pilgrims & Indians “First” Thanksgiving pageant at Regina’s school. After reading, look at what we are still doing in 2019 at schools all across this nation to continue the harmful representation built into these false mythologies. It’s time to find a better and more accurate way to celebrate both Thanksgiving and the Native American Heritage Month in our classrooms. 

As we plan for November and Native American Heritage Month, let’s not only bring more of these great Native & Indigenous works into our libraries, curriculums, and bookshelves but let’s expand this to a 365-day celebration, year after year after year. Because not only are books like Indian No More great examples of the work produced by Native authors, they’re just plain great books. So many stories from the past, present, and future are being produced by Native creators it’s a shame to confine the spotlight to only one month a year.


Native writers at Kweli in 2016 photo: First row: Charlene Willing McManis, Andrea Rogers, Marcie Rendon Back row: Natalie Dana, Laura Kaye Jagles, Traci Sorell, Joseph Bruchac, Kevin Noble Maillard