We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané  Lessac

Charlesbridge Publishing
ISBN:  978-1580897723

2019 Sibert Medal Honor Award

2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Award

2019 Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award

From Charlesbridge Publishing

Order your copy here or at your favorite place to buy books.

NOW AVAILABLE! Hear Cherokee citizens read each season in We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. Order the audiobook CD here!

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Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is a word that Cherokee people use to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the Cherokee New Year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by Traci Sorell, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrated by Frané Lessac, this nonfiction 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

★ “Perfect for holiday and family sharing” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ "Has the ability to resonate with any reader" - Shelf Awareness, starred review

★ "Underscores the importance of traditions . . . while simultaneously . . . challenging dated media images of Indigenous people." - The Horn Book, starred review 

“Highly recommended! What makes We Are Grateful exquisite is that Sorell's book touches on the Trail of Tears, naming of children, and the importance of listening to elders at the Cherokee National Holiday. These parts of the book are depicted in a matter of fact way. They aren't emotionally weighted--and they don't need to be. They are parts of the lives of Cherokee citizens. I think it is Sorell's identity that makes it possible for these parts of the story to work as beautifully as they do!
- Dr. Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children’s Literature

"The text reads like poetry  . . . and the author’s note sets past misrepresentations right." - Booklist

“I am truly grateful for Traci Sorell's first picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. By focusing on the simple but deeply meaningful theme of gratitude, she's portrayed the strength and lasting nature of her Cherokee heritage in a way that will resonate with young readers of many cultural backgrounds. Further, she does this in a contemporary fashion, not talking about her people in the vanished past but as a vital part of the present-day world. Vividly and accurately illustrated by Frané Lessac, and including Cherokee language on numerous spreads, it both entertains and teaches on every page. It’s the kind of book I want my own grandchildren to read.”

—Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), best-selling author of over 130 books for children and adults

 " Each narrator lends a unique voice to the story, complementing the diverse contemporary Cherokee families who are depicted celebrating every season. Cherokee pronunciations are beautifully delivered to help listeners understand the language, while sounds of the forest and the community create ambiance. Listening with the picture book is the ideal way to appreciate this charming and important work with themes of being thankful, honoring family and ancestors, and coming together for celebrations ...." - AudioFile Earphones Award

2018 Junior Library Guild selection


Click to download: Classroom & Activity Guide and Coloring Sheets.

For a guide to Cherokee Words (Spoken & Phonetics) that are found in the book, click here.






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