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.
Favorite quote: “there can still be peace between us.”
There are a few books out there that will never get old, that are timeless.i see peace is one of them, especially when we consider the year that we’ve just had: all the shootings, the (suicide) bombings, the racial and political and economical tensions all over the world and closer to us. I’ve lost track of the number of times I read this book since I’ve owned it. Every time I paused and pondered on a different page, on a different quote. I looked within and I looked around. Through its words I chased hope when it had become shy. I crossed the bridge of generations and of mutual understanding, one page at a time. The book speaks every language, and to every generation. It will make you smile when all is alright, and remind you of what matters. It is likely to make you feel peaceful when there is turmoil.
i see peace suits any occasion. It makes for a great holiday gift and beyond that, its reading can be appreciated all year long. It also strikes me as the type of message our world needs right now. I hope you will give it a chance.
More can be written about the concise writing style and the font use. There is matter to reflect regarding the deliberate lack of capital letters in the beginning of every sentence. The illustrations are minimal and leave room to breathe without being overwhelming, while adding to the depth of the reading experience. I enjoyed how, looking at them, they add to the multidimensionality of the theme of peace: peace with one self, peace with each other, peace with the earth and our surroundings. Yet for the purpose of this review, I chose to focus solely on the message of the book. I leave the additional literary analysis to the discretion of the reader.
i see peace was released on December 16, 2013, and is one of the excellently self-published books that I would recommend. It was free for upload on Amazon for short period of time late in 2014, which is how it first got to my attention and how I obtained it. I mentioned in my Amazon’s review that I “Loved the historical reference at the end, which deepens the roots of the peace planted within during the reading of this song to our soul.” (sp)
i see peace is also available in Spanish under the title yo veo la paz.
About the author: Maya Gonzalez is an award winning artist and innovative author, an activist and an educator based in the Bay Area, in Northern California. Year long she teaches, among other topics, workshops on writing and illustrating children’s books through her school, the School of the Free Mind. She is the founder of Reflection Press. She has been both traditionally published and self-published.