Sunday, February 10, 2019


--  'INDIAN SHOES'  --

 ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

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.

JINGLE DANCER, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, (Morrow / Harper-Collins, 2000)(ages 4-up) was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award, runner-up for the Western Writers Association Storyteller Award, and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. It was also named to the Texas 2 x 2 List. School Library Journal said, “…a welcome addition to stories about traditions passed down by woman of a culture.” Book magazine named it among “Debuts that Deliver.”

RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (HarperCollins, 2001)(Listening Library, 2001)(ages 10-up) also was an Oklahoma Book Award finalist and earned Cynthia the title of 2001 Writer of the Year from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Kirkus said it was “tender, funny and full of sharp wordplay.” School Library Journal called it, “a wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her patchwork tribe.” Audio File adds,"Rich with sorrow and the longing for resolution in a life diminished by loss, the story of Rain's journey toward her own identity is captivating and exceedingly hopeful." And Bob Langstaff at WAMV AM/Amhert, VA noted, "It's kind of like a combination of 'Northern Exposure' and 'Party of Five'." The audio production was aired as the November 2005 Book of the Month by Red Tales, Aboriginal Voices Radio, The Earth 106.5 (based in Canada).

Cynthia also is the author of INDIAN SHOES (HarperCollins, 2002) (ages 7-up).

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.

Cynthia's latest picture book is SANTA KNOWS (Dutton, 2006), a holiday title, co-authored by her husband, Greg Leitich Smith, and illustrated by Steve Bjรถrkman. SANTA KNOWS is Cynthia and Greg's first book written together. The Horn Book Magazine named it among "Holiday High Notes." Kirkus Reviews called it "…a newly minted winner." Publishers Weekly cheered it as "fantastic," and The Miami Herald highlighted it among "Worthy Titles for the Holidays."

Cynthia's first upper YA novel is TANTALIZE (Candlewick, 2007))(Listening Library, 2008)(Walker U.K., 2008), a gothic fantasy aimed at ages 14-up. It’s one of the new books that signal an expansion of her writing from contemporary realistic fiction to also embrace fantasy. TANTALIZE also is her first title set in Austin, where she now makes her home. The Horn Book calls the novel an "intoxicating romantic thriller." BookPage says the book "will appeal to fans—both teens and adults—of Buffy the Vampire Slayer." TANTALIZE was named a Borders Original Voices Nominee in March 2007 and Chapters (Canadian bookstore chain) named it a Junior Advisory Board Pick. In addition, the novel was chosen for the 2007 Texas Book Festival and the 2007 National Book Festival. The Bloomsbury Review cheers, "Cynthia Leitich Smith is the Anne Rice for teen readers."

Cynthia’s latest YA Gothic fantasy is ETERNAL (Candlewick, 2009), a companion book to TANTALIZE.

Cynthia has published short stories, including "The Gentleman Cowboy".


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. {The book was originally published in 2002, but was only recently acquired by the local library I use.}
To read more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts, visit Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' blog at:  Always in the Middle



I recently joined a collaborative, creative group of  debut children's authors whose books will be published in 2019. We call ourselves, 'On the Scene in '19'. Please visit our website to learn more about each of us and the projects we will be releasing this year! We have picture book and middle-grade authors in our group. Some books will be indie-published such as my own middle-grade historical, 'RES-Q Tyler Stop'. Other books will be published traditionally.

**Here's the link to our website:

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  1. I hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds like it could be a favorite of mine in the future. I enjoy stories where grandparents are a focus and will look for Indian Shoes on my next library visit. Thanks for the review!

  2. I love Native American literature and have a fondness for an area in SE Oklahoma I have visited for years. Cynthia's series is new to me, and I like her work. I like the generational focus too. Will check my library!

  3. I hadn't heard of this one before. It sounds like a wonderful collection of stories. I love that you liked each one even more than the last. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. I've always wanted to read a book by Cynthia. Glad you liked this so much. And that's great that you're in a debut group.

  5. I don't read many short stories, but I probably should. This sounds like an interesting collection. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. I really enjoyed Indian Shoes when I read it. I particularly liked the relationship between Ray and his grandfather. Thanks for sharing.