Indian Shoes

by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Jim Madsen

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s books feature contemporary American Indian characters,... read more

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s books feature contemporary American Indian characters, something that is far too rare in publishing today. Her picture book Jingle Dancer, featuring a young Muscogee/Obibway girl, was published in 2000, and last year saw the release of her young adult novel Rain Is Not My Indian Name, about a mixed race teenager who is part Creek, Cherokee, and Objiway. Now Smith, who is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has written an interconnected collection of short stories that reads like a chapter book and is perfect for newly independent readers. Indian Shoes features a young boy named Ray Halfmoon, who lives with his grandpa in Chicago. Each chapter of this appealing, accessible volume places the two in a believable situation drawn from everyday life. In the title story, Ray hopes to buy Grandpa a pair of Indian moccasins he finds in an antique shop, but he can’t beat the price offered by another customer. When he overhears the customer ask if the shoes were “worn by a real Indian” Ray comes up with a delightful and surprising offer that the customer can’t refuse. When Ray and his Grandpa can’t go back to Oklahoma for Christmas they spend the holiday pet sitting for all of their neighbors, turning their loneliness into an adventure when the power goes out. Smith has adroitly woven cultural details about her characters’ Seminole-Cherokee heritage into the stories, and uses colloquial language to further enhance this fine collection of brief contemporary fiction. (Ages 6-9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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