We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
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Annotation: Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
Catalog Number: #167675
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Lessac, Frane,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-580-89772-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-580-89772-3
Dewey: 975.004
LCCN: 2017033091
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In Cherokee culture, Sorell shares, the expression of gratitude is part of daily life and extends from elaborate celebrations to struggles to ordinary life moments. She organizes her debut picture book by seasons, beginning with the fall, which is a time for collecting foliage for basket making and remembering those who suffered on the Trail of Tears. It also contains the Cherokee New Year and the Great New Moon Ceremony, a celebration of renewal and coming together. Each season section starts with the name of the season in Cherokee, an expression of gratitude for the change in nature, and subsequent pages describing community activities pertinent to that season. Lessac's folkloric illustrations in bright gouache colors stand in pleasing contrast to the book's contemporary feel and setting. The text reads like poetry but has a gentle instructional dimension to it. On many pages, Cherokee words are accompanied by English translations, pronunciation guides, and Cherokee syllabary. Back matter contains relevant explanations and provides good context, and the author's note sets past misrepresentations right.
Horn Book
An extended family engages with activities and traditions that express gratitude and carry on Cherokee history and culture. Simultaneously, the book incorporates modernity and challenges dated images of Indigenous people. Cheerful, richly detailed gouache illustrations in bright, saturated colors cycle through the seasons. The text includes several Cherokee words (their English and Cherokee spellings, phonetic pronunciation, and definition); a complete Cherokee syllabary concludes this attractive and informative book. Glos.
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
According to storyteller Sorell, the Cherokee people always express gratitude for the little things they are given by saying the phrase, "Otsaliheliga," or "we are grateful." Raised in the Cherokee Nation, Sorell intentionally crafts a narrative that simultaneously embraces modernity and a traditional presentation of Cherokee community and way of life. Throughout, the measured text reminds readers that in all things "we say otsaliheliga." Colorful, folk art-style illustrations show Cherokee people during ceremonies, in family gatherings large and small, and outdoors enjoying each of the four seasons, always expressing gratitude. The scenes are contemporary; one shows a father taking care of his children, engaging in a positive parenting role, while another depicts a family seeing off a relative who is leaving for deployment in the military, underscoring that Cherokee people serve their country. Children participate in rites and in family outings with adults, and they also play traditional games such as stickball and plant strawberries, a practice that reminds their people to embrace peace with one another. The variety of skin tones represented in the illustrations likewise depicts a present-day reflection of the diversity that exists within the Cherokee people. Occasional Cherokee words are written in Romanized form, phonetically, in Cherokee characters, and in English—a lovely grace note. A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude. (glossary, author's note, Cherokee syllabary) (Picture book. 4-8)
Word Count: 378
Reading Level: 3.0
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 199588 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: NC970L
Uligohvsdi - Fall
When cool breezes blow and leaves fall, we say otsaliheliga...
...as shell shakers dance all night around the fire, and burnt cedar's scent drifts upward during the Great New Moon Ceremony.
...as we clean our house, wear new clothes, enjoy a feast, and forget old quarrels to welcome the Cherokee New Year.

Excerpted from We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

2019 Sibert Honor Book
2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book
NPR's Guide To 2018’s Great Reads
2018 Book Launch Award (SCBWI)
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018
School Library Journal Best Books of 2018

2018 JLG selection
2019 Reading the West Picture Book Award

The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

"A gracious, warm, and loving celebration of community and gratitude"—Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW

"The book underscores the importance of traditions and carrying on a Cherokee way of life"—Horn Book STARRED REVIEW

"This informative and authentic introduction to a thriving ancestral and ceremonial way of life is perfect for holiday and family sharing"—School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW

"An elegant representation"—Shelf Awareness STARRED REVIEW

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