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.
Book Title: Meet Yasmin! Author: Saadia Faruqi Illustrator: Hatem Aly Publisher: Picture Window Books Age Range: 5 to 8 years
If there were ever a main character that I was thrilled to meet, Yasmin is that character. And I'm equally elated to review Meet Yasmin! – a charming set of stories surrounding the adventures of this effervescent second-grader.
In Yasmin the Explorer, her Baba teaches her about maps and how every good explorer needs one. Excited by the prospect of becoming an explorer herself, Yasmin creates her own map as she and Mama head to the farmer’s market. But when they get separated, Yasmin must put her map to the test to find her.
In Yasmin the Painter, Yasmin finds herself worrying about the upcoming art contest at school – especially because she doesn’t believe she’s very good at it. Even with the help of Baba and online painting videos, Yasmin has a hard time finding her confidence. But she must figure out a plan before the big competition.
In the final story, Yasmin the Fashionista, she and Nana have a lot of fun playing dress up in Mama’s clothes while Mama and Baba are out. That is until they accidentally wreck her favorite kameez. Now Yasmin must use her creativity to figure out how fix it before her parents get home.
Not only is this book brimming with girl power, Faruqi provides fantastic backmatter to teach young children about Pakistani culture; which includes facts and a recipe for Mango Lassi. The book also presents readers with discussion questions about the challenges Yasmin faces and what they would do if faced with the same obstacles.
Aly’s vibrant illustrations perfectly match Yasmin’s bright and electric spirit. I highly recommend meeting Yasmin with your beginner readers. You’ll be glad you did.
Meet Yasmin! is perfect for: The future explorer The future creator The future fashionista