We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac

Hello, Traci Sorell! Happy Monday! I am grateful you dropped by to celebrate We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.

Traci: Osiyo, Mr. Schu! Wado for inviting me to share about my debut book for children.

[Osiyo (oh-see-yo) is “Hello” in Cherokee and wado (wah-doe) is “thank you.”]

Thank you for the warm greeting and for creating this beautiful picture book! 

I wrote the words in purple, and Traci wrote the words in black

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga’s book trailer makes my heart sing! I snap my fingers, sing along and dance in my chair or jump up and dance every time I play it. “Celebration” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but to hear it sung in Cherokee by my tribe’s youth choir is a million times better. Then combine that with Emilee Chavez’s voiceover of the Cherokee words and Frané Lessac’s artwork—you have perfection to me!

Frané Lessac’s illustrations blew me away when I first saw them and still do whenever I look at them. Readers will love poring over them and finding all the wonderful details she shares in every spread. I envisioned very colorful, culturally accurate artwork. She nailed both and then some. Frané created art beyond anything I imagined.

She’s also an absolutely amazing person to work and a joy to be around. I love her! When I saw her artwork on the Wernick & Pratt website (we’re both in the same literary agency), I shared it with my editor, Karen Boss. When I heard months later that Charlesbridge had selected Frané, my heart leapt with excitement. Then when she traveled from Western Australia to the Cherokee Nation last summer to do her research and we met in person, I knew I had won the illustrator lottery for my debut book. She shared rough sketches with other Cherokee citizens, sought input, listened and gathered what she needed to create the beautiful art you see in the book.

Illustration Credit: Frané  Lessac

On September 4, 2018, I will be recovering from a fabulous early book launch over Labor Day weekend at the Cherokee National Holiday. I’m signing books at the tribe’s gift shop and doing storytimes coupled with signings at the Cherokee Heritage Center. I look forward to seeing posts on social media of folks picking up or receiving their pre-ordered books because the book will officially be out in the world! YAY!

Illustration Credit: Frané  Lessac

Did you know that my family is moving back to the Cherokee Nation during my book launch season? My son has been asking to live closer to our family for a while, so we’ll be relocating to northeastern Oklahoma in early fall. It’s a little hectic at our house right now with getting ready to move, but we’re grateful to be closer to everyone and to be able to participate in Cherokee Nation events more easily.

School libraries are essential for students. So much additional learning, exposure to the world beyond the classroom and access to great books happens in school libraries.

Illustration Credit: Frané  Lessac

Picture books are one of my favorite things in the world. I love the marriage of word and art, each making the other better. I’ve collected them since my first year in college, even though I had such limited income then putting myself through school. They teach us something at every age.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I’m most excited about for this book. I can’t wait to share it with children everywhere! Also, I get to do some joint appearances with Frané in early October in Washington, DC and New York too. I’m truly grateful for all of it. Again, wado for inviting me to drop by and celebrate the publication of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.

Look for We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga on September 4, 2018. 


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