Children’s Book Review: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
Book Title: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga Author: Traci Sorell Illustrator: Frane Lessac (need to accent the e) Publisher: Charlesbridge Age Range: 3 to 7 years
OSIYO! Pronounced OH-see-yo, this is how you say “Hello” in Cherokee. This is one of many vocabulary words to be learned in Traci Sorell’s exceptional debut book, and 2019 Sibert Medal Honor Book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.
Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is the word for gratitude used by people of the Cherokee Nation and also the theme of this beautiful exploration of modern Native life. Set against the backdrop of the changing seasons, the narrator invites us to learn about the blessings and ceremonies celebrated throughout the year.
“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.”
The narrator also reminds us of the monumental roles and contributions Cherokee citizens continue to provide this country.
“When showers fill streams and shoots spring up, we say otsaliheliga as we embrace a clan relative heading off to serve our country.”
The book is filled with wonderful vocabulary, cultural and history lessons; and, Lessac’s vibrant illustrations makes time spent with each page a truly absorbing experience. Above all, it serves as an important reminder that life is to be lived with gratitude.