Featured books by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction

Short stories by well and lesser-known Indigenous writers present a range of tales about contemporary young people from different tribes and regions at a Michigan powwow. They range from humorous to serious, but each provides a glimpse at the power of community support. Created in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Hearts Unbroken

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Age Level: Teen
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Fiction

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town.

Holler Loudly

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrated by: Barry Gott
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Fiction

Holler Loudly has a voice as big as the southwestern sky, and everywhere he goes, people tell him to "Hush!" From math class to the movies and even the state fair, Holler's LOUD voice just keeps getting him into trouble. But when a huge tornado comes twisting into town, Holler (with that voice of his!) saves the day. 

Indian Shoes

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrated by: MaryBeth Timothy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Fiction

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins... or hightops with bright orange shoelaces? Ray Halfmoon, a young Cherokee-Seminole boy living in Chicago with his grandpa, prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his grandpa. After all, it's Grampa Halfmoon who's always there to help Ray get in and out of scrapes and share a laugh. 

Jingle Dancer

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrated by: Ying-Hwa Hu, Cornelius Van Wright
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Genre: Fiction

Jenna wants to dance in the powwow as her grandmother and other women in her family have. But she wonders: will she have enough jingles to make her dress sing? Traditional and contemporary activities come together in this appealing, clearly illustrated story of a modern girl and her background, based on the author's Muscogee (Creek) heritage.

Sisters of the Neversea

By: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Fiction, Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family — and their friendship? Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children, to a sea of merfolk, pirates, and a giant crocodile. A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

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