Transcript from an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith

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Cynthia Leitich Smith talks about being an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee Nation

I’m an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee Nation. Our capital is in Okmulgee, which is in our reservation is contained within the borders of what is currently called Oklahoma. We’re a large nation. I believe we’re the fourth or fifth biggest tribal nation within the boundaries of the United States today, and it is one of the five Indigenous nations that were originally located in what’s now called the Southeastern United States and were forcibly relocated by Andrew Jackson and his soldiers during what’s often referred to as Removal, or the Trail of Tears. We weren’t the only tribes that were forcibly removed out of our territory to a near one, but that is the signifier that’s usually associated with our particular slice of that larger historical movement.

Feeling at home in the suburbs and tribal towns

I had a tremendously blessed childhood. I was raised predominantly in the Kansas City area on both sides, the Kansas and Missouri side of the state line. I also went back and forth between Kansas City and tribal towns in Oklahoma to visit extended family. I have wonderful memories of fishing on a pontoon boat on Lake Tenkiller with my great-granddad and all of my cousins and a lot of dogs and bare feet and screaming. And I don’t think we ever actually caught a fish, but we had a wonderful time.

So, in some ways it was an average kind of lower middle class suburban upbringing, and in other ways it was a very rural extended family country kid upbringing, but I tended to think of myself as almost a dual person. I was this Cindy in Kansas City, and I was that Cindy in Oklahoma, and they were friends, but they led separate lives and moved in separate circles.

Growing up with a sort of dual childhood, I had a sense of what different homes gave us. So, for example, in suburban Kansas City, it was a more hectic place. I had school and homework and dance lessons. As I grew older, I babysat a lot for other kids in my neighborhood and had various other activities.

When I was home in Oklahoma, in tribal towns, everything was slower paced. It was much more of a setting that was led by the Elders. You spent much more time listening than you might have. In fact, everyone spent more time listening and reflecting. It was more of a setting that was dominated by that natural world, the water, the trees, the animals. Just being in any rural community is going to be like that, as opposed to the mall and the Olive Garden and everything that we might think of as sort of quintessential to a middle class kid’s life in the 1970s and ’80s.

“That Newbery company makes pretty good books!”

I was an avid young reader. My mother took me every Saturday morning to the public library. It was an activity that fit quite well into our mac and cheese and garage sale sort of budget. So, it was affordable, but it was also a place of magic. I felt welcome at the library. I knew all the librarians quite well, and I participated in the summer reading contest. In fact, the first sort of prize that I won was for “Most Books Read Over a Summer.” This was this Mid-Continent Public Library of Grandview, Missouri, and I believe we got to take home one paperback for every 10 books that we read and that was ideal for me.

I read all of the Newbery books with just a few exceptions because I was under the impression that the Newbery Medal was a brand logo. This was the age of Gloria Vanderbilt and Izod and name brands were very big in the culture. And so I thought that the Newbery Medal was a corporate logo and that they made pretty good books. And so I made an effort to keep reading those. I also really enjoyed the Nancy Drew Mysteries, and I believe that I spent a lot of my spare time writing poetry, in part because I read so much. And from there, I grew into writing short stories and it just continued.

What I remember about seeing Native imagery as a child

As a young reader, my favorite book, my heart book, my comfort book was The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I just adored it. I reread it every summer, but I had never even opened Sign of the Beaver, which was another of her big books. It was another Newbery book, and I’m sure it was right there on the shelf.

Now, I don’t have a specific memory of a book with Native content that turned me off, but I do have a specific memory of opting out in a protective way. And I think that came from the larger society. I was very much aware of images of Native people. I had a memorable experience going to a drive-in movie theater with my parents when the double feature was Peter Pan and A Star is Born, and my parents told me that I needed to go to bed earlier, but my mother was not going to give up Barbra Streisand. So, we still stayed at the theater.

But and I remember thinking as a little girl that my classmates, many of whom were also out that evening, that I’d seen in the playscape area, were also watching that movie, and did they really think that that was who we were, did they associate that sort of imagery, and it made me very cautious about sharing that part of myself in my young peer group.

Raise your voices and Read Across America

It’s a profound honor to have my writing included in Read Across America. When I think about being a young girl reader in Kansas, books were my window into other places. My family only went really between Kansas City and Oklahoma. If we got very adventurous, we might go to Colorado on vacation. And books opened up that world to me. They brought me to New York City. They took me to the museum. They took me to the desert states.

And when I think about kids from across the continent having that same experience at the same time, sharing a book, sharing in the conversation and circle of story, you never know what connections might be out there, and I would say the same to all the kids who are taking part in the program. Let your voices rise. Join in the circle and read.

The inspiration for Jingle Dancer

I had graduated from college with a journalism degree and law school and begun writing shortly after graduation. So, I was pretty young. I was in my late twenties, which back then was extraordinarily unusual for a children’s book writer. And more recently you see many more younger writers, but that wasn’t true at the time. And I had been clerking at the Office of the General Council for the Department of Health and Human Services in Chicago, had decided in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing that I wanted to do something I felt was a more heartfelt contribution to the world.

And so I relocated from Chicago to Austin because it was more affordable and began working at St. Edward’s University to help pay the bills, and I was a tutor in English for a program that served students from migrant farm families who were freshmen enrolled.

I loved it. It was a terrific job. It was as much big sister as it was English tutor, composition. And between students, I was thinking about the stories they were telling me and the family they were missing and what it was like growing up. I had just started really thinking seriously about writing for children. I was very much in my apprenticeship. I was reading and reading, and I was reading as many contemporary children’s books as I could find with Native content, and there were very few. Joe Bruchac had published a few in the late 1990s that really stood out.

And it occurred to me that the vast majority of them featured male protagonists, boys and men. There was this idea, especially with secondary characters, you would have this white boy who was for some reason lost in the wilderness, but it was okay because he had run into this Native person who could guide him through whatever was to come, which seemed a little ridiculous to me, especially then because I couldn’t find my car in the college parking lot.

And the idea that we have this magical compass by virtue of our Indigenousness just made no sense whatsoever. So, I was trying for something that was  more authentic but also something that would speak to a larger experience than that boy adventure genre tradition in children’s literature.

And so I was thinking about jingle dancing because it is a dance that is traditionally passed from women to girls. Increasingly two-spirit Native people are also jingle dancing. And it’s a very popular dance. It was originated with the Ojibwe people and the Annishinaabe people. Then it spread across the continent, and it seemed like a wonderful way to touch on reciprocity, to touch on intergenerational relationships, and to craft something that was very modern day. The original draft was scribbled on the back of a torn envelope. It was actually a sisters story initially, and that element fell away completely over time and became more of a hybrid story and concept book around the number four as a structure.

Getting Jingle Dancer published

I had the story, and I was involved in a critique group in Austin, Texas. We were all baby writers. We’re all published today. And we would load up the car and we would all go together to these conferences and we would share the hotel room and we would go from place to place. And I had taken the manuscript to a workshop that Kathi Appelt did in La Grange, Texas, which is between Austin and Houston.

Kathi, a notable Newbery Honor author, National Book Award finalist, is my original children’s writing teacher, mentor, and bossy big sister. And she had hosted a workshop and invited editors down for that. I had gone to a workshop. I believe it was in Houston, and I had sent a copy of the manuscript to Rosemary Brosnan, who’d expressed interest in a prior manuscript, Indian Shoes. All of a sudden the editor who had gone to Kathi’s workshop was interested in acquiring the book, an editor at the Houston conference was interested in acquiring the book, and Rosemary was interested in acquiring the book too, and I panicked.

I was very concerned. I didn’t know what to do. Publishing, like every industry, has its culture and its expectations, its lingo, and I didn’t want to offend anyone or burn any bridges. So, I reached out to a literary agent.

Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown was my dream agent. I wrote her a note. It was by today’s standard shockingly unprofessional. It said something – I’m paraphrasing – “Dear Ginger, Hi. This is Cyn from the Pod list. I have a question if you don’t mind, and if you do, I’m sorry I bothered you. Bye.” Like it was literally – I was, what, 27 years old. I was very nervous.

And she wrote back. She’s so lovely. She said, “Dear Cyn, of course I know who you are. What is your question?” And I replied, “I have this terrible problem. I wrote this manuscript, and I took it to a workshop in a conference and I sent it to an editor, which back then was considered fine, and they all want it and I don’t know what to do. And I was wondering what I should do.” And I’ll never forget this. She writes and said, “Dear Cynthia, having multiple editors interested in one’s work is not what we in the industry call a problem.”

And so we had a lovely conversation wherein I sent her a couple of other things that I was working on, and she has been my agent of record for the entirety of my career, which is unusual in children’s publishing, but I’m profoundly grateful. Rosemary acquired the manuscript at Lodestar, which was almost immediately thereafter eliminated in a corporate merger.

And then she bought it again at Morrow Junior, which almost immediately thereafter was eliminated in a corporate merger. However, they kept her editorial team onboard. And so I have a somewhat unique distinction, I think Monica Brown is in the same situation, So, there is more than one of us who sold their first book to one publisher, had it produced at a second, and released at a third.

And that was my introduction to the industry. And real tears were cried along the way. I didn’t know if it would all turn out all right, but it has. And, you know, Rosemary and Ginger and I are still working together. It’s been – we’re in 2021, and Jingle Dancer sold in 1997, ’98. So, yeah, it’s been quite a journey.

Why Cousin Elizabeth’s character in Jingle Dancer made a big impression

The character of Cousin Elizabeth from Jingle Dancer has generated much more conversation than I had ever initially anticipated. She is one of the four women to whom Jenna goes, borrows jingles, and then dances to reciprocate that gift, dances in their honor. So, Cousin Elizabeth can’t go to the powwow, and the reason she can’t go to the powwow is because she is an attorney and she is working on her big case.

When I first conceived of that, my initial inspiration was somewhat personal. I was brainstorming reasons that Native people who wanted to go to powwow who were dancers, who were deeply invested in powwow couldn’t, and I remembered clearly being in Chicago and wanting to go to powwow and not being able to because I had a law job at that time. So, it seemed like a perfectly logical extension of my daily life.

It’s interesting because when I was first sharing the manuscript in its developmental stages, one of the editors at one of the conferences that I brought it to in a one-on-one consult said, “I love that you’ve included this character Cousin Elizabeth, and I noticed that she’s a Native woman attorney, and that is aspirational and I can see why you would want girls to have that sort of role model, but it’s not realistic.

There aren’t Native women attorneys yet, and someday when they are, we hope to see them in children’s books.”

And I remember being just baffled, immediately baffled by that. You know, I mean there I was, I had a tribal ID, I had a law degree. It seemed perfectly plausible to me that Cousin Elizabeth could be a Native woman attorney, but there weren’t depictions of people like her in the popular culture.

If you keep in mind through my entire childhood, I can remember seeing Native women largely played by non‑Natives in the far background on the occasional western movie that was on TV. The most positive and exceptional experience was seeing Buffy Sainte-Marie on Sesame Street. That was the shining light. And then there really wasn’t anything that stood out in my memory until Northern Exposure came on, and the actor who played the character of Marilyn Whirlwind made a tremendous positive impression on me. I thought she had a lovely presence on the screen and dignity.

So, depictions of Native women were almost nonexistent to me, and I was actively looking at them. So, I can only imagine what that would have been like for non-Native editors in the industry, especially at a time when there were so very few Native authors and certainly fewer Native women authors. And I nevertheless persisted with it. At that point I felt very strongly that Cousin Elizabeth had to work on her big case. I mean she took the job, she was a responsible character. She was named after my own Cousin Elizabeth so I was very invested in her.

And the second aspect of the character that has generated some conversation was the fact that she is both Black and Indigenous. The illustrators were Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, and they had never illustrated a book that was not reflective of either of their heritages. And so I sent them family photographs. I sent them video. I sent them as much primary source material as possible, and I emphasized that I don’t know what it is, but a percentage of our Muscogee people are both Black and Muscogee and that it was very important to me that all of our children felt that they would be reflected in Jenna’s world.

And so you see that in the character Cousin Elizabeth. You see that in one of the three little girls that she is jingle dancing with in a circle at the end. There’s also a lighter skinned Native girl who’s there to show that end of the diversity, but it was extremely important to me. And because there were so few depictions at all, let alone contemporary, what seemed very obvious to me at the time I realize now was somewhat ahead of the curve in terms of publishing conversation when it came to, you know, there’s the larger diversity and then you go deeper in the tree ring circles to diversity within, and that’s always been a priority.

Revisiting Indian Shoes

Indian Shoes was an early book that I wrote. We have repackaged it is what we call it in publishing. We gave it a bit of a facelift and made it available in paperback so it’s more affordable to kids. But something that we did that I was really excited about was bringing in a Cherokee illustrator. Sharon Irla did a new cover, and MaryBeth Timothy did interiors.

The models on the cover are Cherokee Nation citizens. One of my favorite moments was receiving a picture of the young model holding, proudly holding up his book and showing, you know, that he was a literary celebrity now too. I also had the opportunity to revisit the text and update it a bit. A lot’s happened in 20 ears of daily life, technologically and otherwise, as well as to write a fresh author’s note, and that for me is something that has changed quite a lot.

When I was originally writing author’s notes, I was thinking about it very much for the grownup readers of children’s literature, and I think it’s because I was always thinking about the kids who would skip the back matter and thinking that’s the territory of grownups.

But then when I stopped and thought about it, I was one of those kids that read every single word cover to cover. And so now as I’ve matured as an author, I see that as an opportunity to speak from the heart to young readers and offer them a bridge from that fictional world back to the real one and just let them know how much I love and appreciate and value them and that they are the heroes of their own stories. So, that is something that is a signal of growth for me as a creative artist that hopefully is a bit of a virtual hug to the kids who are connecting with my book.

Reimagining Peter Pan in Sisters of the Never Sea

I had been exposed to variations of Peter Pan as a child, and there were so many elements of it that spoke to my inner kid. I love mermaids. I love fairies and storybook pirates and adventures. All of that is wonderful and enticing, but it wasn’t a world that welcomed in Native kids in a respectful way. It wasn’t a world in which they were three‑dimensional people.

And to an extent, the same is true of the girl characters, and the same is true in terms of the depiction of disability. Hook, which is an adaptive device under the circumstances, is essentially shorthand for villainy. And so while there was much to love, there was also much to reimagine. And I wanted to give Native and non-Native kids a chance to enjoy the ties that they had to each other. The lost kids and Wendy are every bit as much a part of the book as Lily and the Native kids, and they do come together.

Lily and her stepsister Wendy, they love each other so much. These are kids in a blended family. And all of this I think goes in a larger way toward healing and recognition while also, you know, in a very contextual sense pushing back against ideas of colonialism and two-dimensionality and stereotypes. You can accomplish a lot in terms of raising the bar for inclusion and still have a really fun page‑turning adventure that is for all children.

You don’t have to choose. It’s almost a fallacy that is this book for these kids or those kids. The book is for kids. And certainly for kids that it reflects, that’s going to be an extra bonus for them, especially if they’re not used to seeing themselves reflected respectfully or with a loving care. But they’re all going to want to turn the page and find out what happens next, and that’s really what we’re going for ultimately.

With children’s literature, Pan has had such a tremendous impact on the idea of what fantasy is, what classic literature is, that I almost felt like to move forward, we needed to revisit and reimagine and realize that we really can do better and let that momentum carry us on.

The story behind Ancestor Approved

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal stories for Kids is a middle grade anthology of short stories and poems.  My thought was in part a reaction. One day I was looking at statistics that were broken out from the CBC numbers of books by and about native people and Debbie recent American Indians and children's literature had taken that to a few more categories, I forget which year it was but the only short story, actually the only middle grade representation for native content was one inclusion, and I think it was it was a we need diverse books anthology. 

It was by distinguished Choctaw author Tim Tingle, so throughout the entire body of literature, the only middle grade representation for native people and native voices was one short story. And that just hit me. I was thinking that somebody should do something about it. And then I realized that while I'd never edited anthology, short stories were among my passions. I had published short stories and multitude of anthologies, and so I decided maybe that person should be me. And I thought it would be wonderful if I could bring in established folks like Tim Tingle and Joseph Bruchac and also upcomers like Eric Gansworth and Tracy Sorell and brand new voices like Brian Young and Andrea Rogers. 

Part of it was to expose more native writers too native and non-native kids, but also to expose them to native and non-native teachers and librarians so that they could follow that person’s short story to more of their work so that I can raise recognition of their bylines. 

A secondary goal was to help foster more connections within the community of native creatives because it was a very collaborative anthology, we worked on a message board online. Message board texts were flying all over the place. I was pairing authors: “You two both have Cherokee character speaking Cherokee. Figure out the dialogues.” “You three both have Ojibwe characters speaking Ojibwe. All of you are giving me a slightly different glossary. Talk to each other.” “Your 2 characters both have uncles who are custodians at this high school where this fictional intertribal powwow is taking place. Do they know each other or are they going to cross paths?”

This really got everyone mixing. So for an author like Brian Young debut novel came out with part drum this past year, healer of the Water Monster to have the opportunity to talk to a very established long time writer and writing Professor Eric Gansworth, our new Printz Honor work winner who are Apple skin to the core that was terrific for both of them. And Brian has all this fresh energy and questions and was making Eric think about things in new ways. 

And it was a wonderful opportunity for Brian to get to some of Eric's wisdom and humor, and to give himself a little bit more permission to be who he really was because it was an all Indigenous group.  The sort of values that went into it the way that we framed it didn't have to be typical western structure. 

Brian has more than one inclusion because he has a story told from 2 opposing characters points of view. Kim has a poem and a short story. The character in her story, her protagonist, is the character that Nicole depicts. In the cover art, if you look through, it's very specific and so then the cover artist was working with the author to learn more about the Wichita people about what would be appropriate to the regalia about the symbolism of what would be included on the show. 

So all of that creates layers of connection of circles. That kind of like the home Carolyn's from Roche. One of our best poets that helps to book in the anthology. We didn't want to do something that would be a thinly veiled social studies project, but we wanted it to have a lot of terrific classroom application, so we were able to brainstorm ways to use backmatter and poetry to offer connective tissue to non- native readers but also native kids for whom Powwow isn't part of their cultural practice. Not all tribes are powwow tribes, and that's part of the diversity that we wanted to reflect too. 

Why powwow is central to the Ancestor Approved anthology

When I was thinking about a way to bring together native characters from across the continent, including First Nations characters from across the U.S./Canadian border, I was trying to ponder intertribal events that really involved children and teens in an active way. And powwow struck me as the perfect opportunity in part because it, there are the dancers which people are very aware of, but there are also vendors. There are people who are associated with the powwow because they happen to live in the area. 

A lot of native people may plan to meet up at powwow as a central location to do something else that is somehow decidedly Indigenous. So for example, in my short story “Between the Lines,” there is a native filmmaker who is interviewing Indigenous veterans about their experience, so it's a community gathering place. It has a commercial element. There's a performance element. It's family and community. 

By setting it at a university town, I had the added plausibility of a wider range of Indigenous families who might be there because they're somehow connected to the school. They have the family members studying there or working there or there visiting for a conference, whatever it might be. Those are places of tremendous intersection. 

I chose Dance for Earth powwow in Ann Arbor for a couple of reasons. The first is that it's central-ish within the United States borders. It's also north enough. But it didn't seem unrealistic that folks might come down across that U.S./Canadian border from First Nation. So it worked well geographically and more. Personally, I am a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, and so I had been to that Pow wow as a student myself and worked on it a bit and I had a kind of larger sense of what that local and regional community was like and some ties there.

How a “rez dog” took on a starring role in Ancester Approved

Rebecca Roanhorse’s story “Rez Dog” features Ozzy, and it is the only story that is told from a character who is not a person, and I remember seeing that come in and, you know, there is such an affection for the personality and plight and vigor of rez dogs everywhere. It’s another of those almost universal qualities in Native communities.

Plus, it’s extraordinarily child-friendly. It seemed like it would be an opportunity for that character to connect with kids and characters throughout the setting and throughout the narrative. And, in fact, that’s what happens. Plus, there’s humor in that, and we really wanted to, like I said, emphasize joy in this book. So much of what we hear from Native kids is that — and from kids of color in general is that they are very aware of the need for important stories, those that had tremendous historical impact that may have involved trauma or tragedy, but they don’t want to be associated with that as their defining characteristic.

Everything bad that’s ever happened to your people shouldn’t dictate who you are. You are who you are. And, you know, laughter is medicine. And the way that we connect together is through humor. It’s interesting because everyone can pretty much agree on what’s sad, but to agree on what’s funny indicates the highest meeting of the minds. And once you have that, once you have the ability with Native and non‑Native kids to laugh together on and off the page, they will have achieved a higher point of understanding than we’ve really seen up ’til now in the history of the culture.

What is Heartdrum?

Heartdrum is an imprint of Harper Children’s, and an imprint is like a little umbrella under a bigger umbrella. So, if Harper Children’s is the big umbrella, then Heartdrum is one of many little umbrellas that come in underneath that. And that means that we have a specific list that has a personality. Our list is primarily focused on contemporary work centered on young Native and First Nations heroes and both their daily life and fantastical adventures.

We do a little bit of nonfiction, much of which is pulling on the mid to late twentieth century. There is this idea if you — you might glean if you look at the body of literature, that Native people stopped existing somewhere around 1900. And so there are so many untold stories between then and now that our historical fiction, they aren’t as distant, but they are still of great interest. So, a historical story set perhaps in the 1970s might be one that is of heightened interest to us as an example.

And with the imprint, we are able to really focus in on that group. That said, there is a lot of diversity in terms of format, age range, and genre. Our first list is very middle grade because of largely the way that it worked out, the stories that our authors were working on at that time, stories that I was working on at that time. But coming up, we also have more YA. We have a number of very exiting picture books. We have the Jojo Makoons chapter book, which is on our first list. We’re very excited about that.

And it’s Native humor. It’s a Native comedy. These are books that certainly do touch on serious issues and show emotional challenges, but they’re also stories of joy and laughter to the extent that we really haven’t seen in books available for young readers.

My role as author-curator at Heartdrum

Author curator is a new title of sorts in the children’s and young adult publishing landscape, and it means something different for every single person who is carrying that title. We’ve had some conversations, and it’s fascinating how it manifests in different constructs. For me, it means that I’m doing a lot of what I’ve always done. I’m Auntie Cyn. If there is someone in the Native creative community who is interested in trying something new or they’re facing a particular challenge or someone’s coming over from the adult side and they want to talk to a long-time voice, I’m happy to be that person.

Beyond that sort of nuts and bolts mentoring, I’m also doing developmental work with manuscripts. I might pair two creatives. I might connect someone to a researcher who can help them. Certainly, I’ll give manuscript feedback. I read marketing materials.

I write promotional articles for the house to use or resource articles or simply articles that write what Native children’s literature is, review teacher guides, whatever it might be, and then do my best to, you know, spread the good word that there are these exciting new voices and visions out there and let people know that now is the time to embrace them and to integrate them throughout their classrooms and homes and communities.

Opportunities for Native youth in publishing

Through my work with We Need Diverse Books, and I am the program director for the We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive and our authors in the larger intertribal community, we’ve begun really emphasizing to kids that this is an option for them, that this is a world that they can enter, there are opportunities there. And I think that is going to be more true to the extent that we continue to embrace a hybrid approach to communicating.

A lot of Native people are reluctant to leave our tribal communities. We have daily life responsibilities to our Elders and children of our extended families. And so that will offer another venue as well as the idea that you don’t necessarily have to live in New York City, which is prohibitive financially for many of us. But in point of fact, New York does have one of the largest urban American Indian populations on the continent, and so we’re also trying to raise awareness there of job opportunities, of what the jobs even are.

You know, I was reaching out to an illustrator who was doing art classes for kids and was doing beautiful mural work and, you know, said essentially, “Have you thought about doing a picture book? Have you thought about doing cover art?” And the answer was, “Well, children’s books, you know, basically the Native representation isn’t anything that I would want to get involved with,” because this was someone of my generation who’d had that same experience.

And so I was able to say, “Hey, things are changed. It’s gotten better. We’ve had a lot of people working for a long time who will be there to support you. I will send you as a personal gift a handful of books that you can look at,” and, that person is now actively pursuing children’s book illustration. So, some of it is just having those conversations. We have to understand when we’re talking about industry representation of Native people, that for a long time the industry sent out the message, you know, showing more than telling this is not a place for you. And we need to improve that message to reflect the positive changes that are occurring, and we’ll only continue to build from here.

We Need Diverse Books

We need diverse books because every kid and teen deserves to be a hero that everyone cheers.

"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps