Picture Books with Cherokee Themes

Compiled by Tina L. Hanlon

Back to Folktale Bibliography Index and General Picture Book List

Notes:  Many titles below contain direct links to AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales (and some have links to authors' or publishers' web sites). Beginning in summer 2001, more details are being added to those annotations than to entries on this page. However, some entries on these picture book pages are based on folk songs or tales not grouped with others in the Annotated Index. The term folktale is used very broadly on these pages to include many kinds of folk narratives and adaptations in different media. Many of these Cherokee stories may be referred to as legends, myths, or pourquoi tales (stories about the origins of things). Since the Cherokee people lived in the southern Appalachian mountains for hundreds of years before Europeans and Americans forced most of them to move to western lands, AppLit lists books with tales from Cherokee oral traditions that continue to be retold within Appalachia and elsewhere. Illustrated nonfiction books about Cherokees in Appalachia are also included on the lower half of this page. AppLit does not know of many realistic picture books that focus primarily on contemporary Cherokees. If you know of any or have corrections or comments, please contact Tina L. Hanlon. See AppLit's pages on folktale collections, background resources and fiction for other Cherokee stories and related materials.

Oyate Publications provides guidelines for evaluating depictions of Native American peoples and traditions, with evaluations of individual books.

Cherokee Folklore and Fiction

Allen, Nancy Kelly. First Fire: A Cherokee Folktale. Illus. Sherry Rogers. Arbordale Publishing, 2014. N. pag. In this version of the pourquoi tale about attempts to bring fire to Earth, the fire turns Raven and the snake Racer black, and puts markings in and around the eyes of several kinds of owls. Spider creates a tusti, or bowl, on her back by spinning with her thread, and brings a coal of fire back from the island where lightning had started fire. The first page shows a Cherokee adult telling the story about "when the world was new" and "Earth had no fire" to children. A lyrical repetition within the storytelling tells that each animal "flew long, flew fast, flew far" (or ran or swam) in their attempts to get fire. "For Creative Minds" is a section with maps, photographs, and drawings, providing background information on Cherokee history, types of water spiders, and fire (with a quiz about fire). The author and illustrator had Cherokee ancestors. A Spanish language edition is available.

Arneach, Lloyd. The Animal's Ballgame: A Cherokee Story from the Eastern Band. Illus. Lydia G. Halverson. Chicago: Children's Press, 1992. "Pictures tell the story of how a ballgame between the birds and mammals of the earth gave some common animals their characteristics. Includes text and suggestions for storytelling activities in the back of the book" (WorldCat). Also produced as audio cassette recording.

Bannon, Kay T. Curious One: A Cherokee Legend. Illus. Ravina Rene Sneed. Gloucester, MA: Lobster Cove, 2001. 38 pp. "A children's book about a young Cherokee girl who becomes stranded in a tree because of her curiosity" (WorldCat).

Cherokee Indian Legend Series: These are not fully illustrated picture books but short stories with many black and white drawings. Blevins (1973-), of Cherokee and Irish descent, is from Northeast Oklahoma. He credits his great-grandmother (described as age 103 in a 1992 book) with passing on their Cherokee heritage, and he has done much research on their culture of Cherokee people and places.

Blevins, Wade. And Then the Feather Fell. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Redfield, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1992. 35 pp. "Annotation: Laura, a Cherokee girl who lives with her beloved grandmother, faces the reality of an old legend about the owl when her grandmother becomes ill."

Blevins, Wade. A-ta-ga-hi's Gift. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Redfield, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1996. 41 pp. "When an accident threatens his future as a ceremonial dancer, Tommy Falling follows his grandmother's advice to seek healing through difficult Cherokee ritual" (WorldCat).

Blevins, Wade. Ganseti and the Legend of the Little People. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Prairie Grove, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1992. 43 pp. "When his grandmother tells him about the Little People, Ganseti, a young Indian boy, searches a dark cave in his quest for the truth behind her story" (WorldCat).

Blevins, Wade. Legend of Little Deer. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Prairie Grove, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1996. 49 pp. "A young Cherokee boy learning to hunt deer finds that the secret of life is to give all you can and to take only what you need" (WorldCat).

Blevins, Wade. Path of Destiny. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Ozark Publishing, 1996. 49 pp. "When Jenny experiences a disturbing dream, her grandmother explains that through it one of the Old Ones wants to talk to her about her path of destiny" (WorldCat).

Blevins, Wade. Se-lu's Song. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Prairie Grove, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1994. 43 pp. "Forced to leave their home in the Smoky Mountains and settle in Oklahoma, a Cherokee family finds little success growing corn until they pray to Se-lu the Corn Maiden" (WorldCat).

Blevins, Wade. The Wisdom Circle. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. Redfield, AR: Ozark Publishing, 1996. Cherokee Indian Legend Series. "When her favorite uncle calmly announces that he is dying, Jamie begins to reflect on the Cherokee wisdom circle of life, death, and birth" (WorldCat). Jamie is a contemporary girl.

Broyles, Anne. Priscilla and the Hollyhocks. Illus. Anna Alter. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2008. "A young African American girl is sold away from her mother as a slave, and then later is sold to a Cherokee Indian, but eventually she is bought by a white man who not only sets her free, but adopts her into his family of fifteen children. Based on a true story; includes instructions for making a hollyhock doll."

Bruchac, Joseph. The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story.  Illus. Anna Vojtech. New York:  Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993. For lesson plan focusing on this picture book, see Kindergarten Lesson 2:  How Strawberries Came into the World.  In Crossroads: A K–16 American History Curriculum (administered by the Council for Citizenship Education).

Bruchac, Joseph and James. How Chipmunk Got His Stripes: A Tale of Bragging and Teasing. Illus. Jose Aruego and Arianne Dewey. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2001. Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to prove his bragging, but Bear can't keep the sun from coming up. Against his grandmother's teachings, Brown Squirrel teases Bear, who threatens to eat him. Brown Squirrel tricks Bear into letting him go, but while escaping he gets long scratches on his back from Bear's paws. In spring the little animal with white stripes becomes known as the Chipmunk, who gets up early every morning to sing about the sunrise, while Bear gets up late to avoid reminders of his limitations. Joseph Bruchac has heard this tale all over the East Coast, including as a Cherokee tale told by Robert White Eagle. He and his storyteller son James note that, as they have expanded the tale in repeated retellings, the dialogue between bear and squirrel has been especially popular with children. Pen-and-ink watercolors fill each page with vivid images of animals, sky and earth.

Bruchac, Joseph and Gayle Ross. The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale. Illus. Virginia A. Stroud. NY: Dial  Books for Young Readers, 1995. A fearful giant spirit dog is chased into the sky, spilling white cornmeal and forming the Gil'liutsun stanun'yi, or Milky Way, after he is caught stealing cornmeal from the people.  The authors adapted a tale told by their Cherokee friends and ancestors, emphasizing the elderly Beloved Woman who held a powerful place in Cherokee traditions. They added the character of a brave grandson "to represent the love children everywhere feel for their grandparents." Stroud, a Cherokee-Creek illustrator, provides notes on details from Cherokee life in the early 1800s included in her acrylic paintings. Review at Native American Books, Native American Indian Resources, web site by Paula Giese, 1996.
A 1996 Aesop Accolade was awarded to this book by the American Folklore Society.

Bushyhead, Jean L., Robert H. Bushyhead, and Kay T. Bannon. Yonder Mountain: A Cherokee Legend. Illus. Kristina Rodanas. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002. A traditional "lesson" story in which a chief's successor is chosen after he asks three young men to climb a mountain and bring back what they find. Black Bear finds valuable stones for trading and Gray Wolf brings herbs for healing medicines. Soaring Eagle returns empty-handed on the seventh day, having gone farthest until he could see beyond the mountain to a signal call for help from afar. As new chief, Soaring Eagle will lead his people to help others in need. Some Cherokee words are included. Joseph Bruchac's Foreword explains the history of the Eastern Cherokee and this tale, which was passed down orally by the Bushyhead family, not recorded in Mooney's Myths of the Cherokee. Very beautiful full-page colored pencil and watercolor illustrations of mountain scenery, Chief Sky in his feathered robe, and his village, including a wordless double-page spread of misty blue mountains at the end. Also available as audio recording. A Teachers Guide published Wenham, MA: Gordon College, 2000. This story is also published in Living Stories of the Cherokee, Ed. Barbara R. Duncan (Chapel Hill: U of NC Press, 1998). A 2003 Aesop Accolade was awarded to this book by the American Folklore Society.

Cohlene, Terri. Dancing Drum: A Cherokee Legend. Illus. Charles Reasoner. Native American Legends Series. Vero Beach, FL: Watermill Press, 1990.

Craig, Idell. Cherokee Myths with Morals. Illus. Catherine Pearson. Bartlesville, Okla.: Native Designs, 1995. Coloring & activities book.

Dominic, Gloria. First Woman and the Strawberry: A Cherokee Legend. Illus. Charles Reasoner. Troll Communications, 1996. Includes a section of background on the Cherokee, with maps, documents, photographs, a glossary and a timeline. 

Grandmother Stories Series (below). Murv Jacob is a descendant of Kentucky Cherokees and Deborah L. Duvall is a Cherokee native of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where they live with their children. Jacob's beautifully detailed white-on-black drawings help tell each story in circular roundels and other shapes within each double-page spread, accompanied by traditional border designs. Similar intricate designs are reproduced on backgrounds in deep colors on the book jackets and end papers. The Cherokee World Series began in 2006 with paintings in rich colors and some of the same characters in the Grandmother Stories Series. Duvall and Jacob also have three cyber storybooks in their web site: Rabbit and the Well, Rabbit Goes to Kansas, and Rabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace, with audio by Duvall and beautiful color paintings by Jacob. See also animals tales by Gayle Ross illustrated by Jacob.

Duvall, Deborah LGreat Ball Game of the Birds and Animals. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2002. 32 pp. See cover and description at page on 2003 Oklahoma Book Award Winners and in Duvall and Jacobs' web site..

Duvall, Deborah LHow Medicine Came to the People: A Tale of the Ancient Cherokees. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2003. 32 pp. Publisher's summary: "'A long time ago, all the animals and people lived happily together,' begins this story of the origins of Cherokee herbal medicine. As the people began to outnumber the animals and then to hunt them for their hides and meat, the days of peaceful coexistence are over. The animals take their revenge on the people by making them sick, creating rheumatism, coughs and colds, aches and pains, fevers and swellings and rashes and allergies. The people are saved by their only remaining allies: the plants and trees that they have cultivated, who show them how to use herbal medicine to survive. Simply told and magnificently illustrated, this story is suitable for children but eerily resonant for adults at a time of heightened awareness of disease and the usefulness of herbal remedies. The book includes an appendix with pictures of common medicinal plants and information on their uses."

Duvall, Deborah LHow Rabbit Lost his Tail: A Traditional Cherokee Legend. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2003. 32 pp. Rabbit has the Cherokee name Ji-Stu in this version of the tale.

Duvall, Deborah LThe Opossum's Tail. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005. 32 pp. "In this seventh volume of the Grandmother Stories, Si-qua the Opossum brags constantly about his tail until his neighbors can stand it no more. Something must be done about him! The prideful Si-qua is overcome by loss and despair when his outer beauty is suddenly gone. But an unexpected ally helps Si-qua discover powerful abilities within himself that will soon win the true admiration of his friends."

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit and the Bears. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2004. 32 pp.  Ji-Stu the Rabbit, bored on a fall day when he doesn't want to work to store food, accompanies Yona the Bear to the mountain where the bears spend the winter in hibernation. They visit Lake Ata-Gahi, the ancient medicine Rabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace coverlake invisible to humans where a bear shot by a hunter is healed. White Bear, Chief of the Bears, tells how humans became bears when they learned to eat in the forest instead of working hard. Yona cuts into his own side to get grease to season their food, but when Ji-Stu tries it he almost dies. The lake heals him and after dancing with the bears he must return home where he will be able to eat through the winter, since he doesn't store fat like the bears who hibernate.

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit and the Fingerbone Necklace. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2009. Available as 2007 cyber storybook on Duvall and Jacob's web site, with color paintings and voice-over by Duvall, as well as 2009 book. Rabbit "tries to retrieve a magic human finger bone necklace from Little Raven's relatives."

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit and the Well. Illus. Murv Jacob. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2007. 32 pp. A drought is drying up the Long Man, or river by Ji-Stu's home. The other animals try to make pots to save water and hold councils led by Terrapin to find better solutions. Ji-Stu (Rabbit) knows of water underground. Terrapin calls on the forces of nature and digging animals to help dig a well, but Ji-Stu angers everyone by not helping to dig, just taking credit for the idea. He finds it easy to steal water from the well but the other animals trick him with a tar wolf when they catch him. It begins to rain after Otter uses his oil to help Ji-Stu get free of the tar wolf and he promises not to steal again. Also available as a cyber storybook narrated by Duvall at this link.

Rabbit and the Wolves coverDuvall, Deborah LRabbit and the Wolves. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005. 32 pp. "In this sixth volume of the Grandmother Stories, Murv Jacob and Deborah Duvall blend two ancient Cherokee tales into an adventure story. Duvall combined elements of How Redbird Got His Color and How Rabbit Got Away from the Wolves along with her own embellishments to create a lively and timeless story."

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit Goes Duck Hunting. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005. 32 pp. Rabbit tries to catch a bigger wood duck than Otter.

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit Goes to Kansas. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2007. 32 pp. Available as cyber storybook on Duvall and Jacob's web site as well as a book about Rabbit and Wildcat's visit to Kansas, where they learn about a game like basketball from birds with bright red and blue feathers. Rabbit enjoys eating sunflower seeds and honey while Wildcat prefers to the wildlife of the Plains and decides to stay there.

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit Plants the Forest. Illus. Murv Jacob. Cherokee World Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2006. 32 pp. "Ji-Stu the Rabbit finds himself in trouble again, when he gets a chance to help Sa-lo-li the Squirrel plant the seeds for the hardwood forest. But something else is in the forest; a mythical creature who gives Ji-Stu the Rabbit the surprise of his life!" 

Ernesto, Lilly. How Grandmother Spider Got the Sun: A Cherokee Tale. Illus. Michael Grejniec. Invitations to Literacy Series. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. 16 pp. Ernesto's tale is reprinted in Little Readers: Difficult Set 1. Wilmington, MA: Great Source Education Group, 1997.

Haley, Gail E. Two Bad Boys: A Very Old Cherokee Tale. New York: Dutton, 1996. A retelling of the Selu/Corn Mother myth, with Haley's gouache illustrations in earth tones. More details on Selu page.

Hamilton, Anna Blanche. Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting: Cherokee Indian Legend. Washington: U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1954. 13 pp. Illustrations. Listed in WorldCat as juvenile literature, retold by Hamilton.

Hood, Flora. Something for the Medicine Man. Look, Read, Learn Series. Illus. Robert Dranko. Chicago: Melmont Publishers, 1962.

Hughes, Maureen. Tiny Moccasins. Illus. Craig Dutton. Urbana, IL: Sunshine Scholastic Publishers, 2002. 27 pp. "The 1954 arrival at an Illinois house of a trunk containing a baby's moccasins and other items provides the framework for the story of how one white family helped a struggling Cherokee family on the Trail of Tears in 1839" (Worldcat).

Hurst, Hawk. Story of the First Flute. Illus. Lindley Sharp. Boone, NC: Parkway Publishers, 2001. "Feeling that he is a failure in his own village, a Cherokee Indian boy goes into the forest, where the creatures present him with a magical flute" (WorldCat). Woodcut illustrations.

Keams, Geri. Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun: A Cherokee Story. Illus. James Bernadin. Rising Moon, 1992. ""After Possum and Buzzard fail in their attempts to steal a piece of the sun, Grandmother Spider succeeds in bringing light to the animals on her side of the world." See cover and description at Nancy Keane's Booktalks.

King, Thomas. A Coyote Columbus Story. Illus. William Kent Monkman. Groundwood Books, 1992. "It was Coyote who fixed up the world, you know. She was the one who did it. She made rainbows and flowers and clouds and rivers. And she made prune juice and afternoon naps and toe-nail polish and television commercials. Some of these things were pretty good, and some of these things were foolish." And other things, such as the Columbus people, were terrible, because Coyote was playing baseball instead of paying attention to what she was creating. This book and its illustrations, by a Cherokee author and Cree artist, are recommended by Oyate.org. From "Connections" by Allison Haupt in Resource Links, vol. 1 (Apr. 1996): p. 180: "She made up the rules, and sometimes she changed them but she can do that -- she's coyote. Thomas King combines native mythology and toe-nail polish in a hilarious, anachronistic and witty replay of Coyote's biggest mistake: whistling up Columbus just so she can have a team to play ball with. Monkman's neon, garish illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the story."

King, Thomas. Coyote Sings to the Moon. Illus. Johnny Wales. Portland, OR: WestWinds Press, 1998. This is a pourquoi tale with modern details, made up by Cherokee author King (according to Oyate.org). King is a U. S. native living in Ontario. The story has a traditional beginning about occurring back "before animals stopped talking to human beings," and when the moon was closer and light was brighter. An Old Woman sings beautifully to the moon and the animals join in. Coyote's terrible singing leads to an exchange of insults with the moon, who jumps in a pond. After some comical mishaps in the dark, Coyote finds Moon playing chess with a sunfish underwater, but good singing won't lure her out so Coyote's bad singing then chases her too far away in the sky. Coyote's long tongue is wrapped around his mouth to stop his singing for a while. In the end he sings each night to keep Moon from descending too far and sneaking back into the pond. The long, pointy, comical figure of the vain Coyote contrasts with the round, red-lipped Moon. See The Three Sillies for comic tales about foolish people who think the moon has fallen in a pond.

Long, Davada L. Grandpa Says, "Seeing Sometimes Is Believing!": A Story of the Cherokee. Illus. Doreyl A. Cain. Ed. Amy Garza. Sylva, NC: Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, 2001. "A Cherokee boy named Tsa-ni lives in the Great Smoky Mountains with his grandparents. When his grandfather has to go away, Tsa-ni sees a beautiful bird that allows his grandfather to watch over him."

Lossiah, Lynn King. Cherokee Little People: The Secrets and Mysteries of the Yunwi Tsunsdi. Illus. Ernie Lossiah. Cherokee Publishing, 2001. 151 pp. "From the Publisher: A [young adult] book about the Little People—small, mystical, elf-like beings—of Cherokee life and culture. This book is as beautiful as it is informative, with full-page art depicting the Little People." Although it is longer than most books labeled picture books, one reader calls it "truths in story/picture format for" everyone.

Michaelis, Catherine. How Earth was Made: A Cherokee Myth. Vashon Island, WA: May Day Press, 1994. 9 leaves. "Retold and illustrated by Catherine Michaelis.... Limited ed. of 40 copies, numbered and signed by the artist./ Letterpress printed. Sewn in signatures on a concertina and bound in blue illustrated paper wrappers printed in brown, blue, and grey. The types are Garamont Light and Goudy Open. Illustrations are relief prints" (WorldCat).

Moore, MariJo. The Cherokee Little People: A Native American Tale. Illus. Emma Shaw-Smith. Rigby Literacy Series. Crystal Lake, IL: Rigby, 2000. 24 pp.

Moore, MariJo. First Fire. Illus. Anthony Chee Emerson. Barrington, IL: Rigby, 2000. This and other books by Moore are recommended by Debbie Reese, a member of Nambe Pueblo, in northern New Mexico, and expert on American Indians in Children's Literature (see Reese's blog list of Recommended Children's/YA/Reference/Resource Books).

Moore, Marijo. The Ice Man: A Traditional Native American Tale. Illus. Yoshi Miyake. Rigby Literacy Series. Crystal Lake, IL: Rigby, 2000. When the Cherokee people do their usual burning of fall leaves in the Smoky Mountains, something goes wrong and they cannot put out the huge fire. The wise man Running Wolf sends younger men, Little Squirrel and Young Deer, to a land of snow and ice, where they give food to an old man in an ice house "with long, frosty hair handing down in two braids" (p. 10). After the stern Ice Man unbraids his hair and slaps it against his hand, he sends the men who have endured his freezing place back to their careless people; then rain and hail put out the fire. A huge lake forms and people can still hear the embers crackling under it. Moore is a North Carolina writer of Cherokee, Irish and Dutch descent. Colorful realistic illustrations, some with borders of geometric patterns, show the contrast between the fall mountain landscape with fire and the white world of the Ice Man.

O'Hearn, Michael. How Spirit Dog Made the Milky Way: A Retelling of a Cherokee Legend. Illus. Roberta Collier-Morales. Read-it! Readers. Minneapolis, Minn: Picture Window Books, 2009. "A Cherokee couple spends their days fishing and making cornmeal. When a giant dog steals their cornmeal, the neighbors all gather to help. Find out how this Cherokee legend explains the creation of the Milky Way" (Worldcat).

Penn, Audrey. The Whistling Tree. Illus. Barbara Leonard Gibson. Washington, D.C.: Child & Family Press, 2003. After Penny, a modern girl, begins searching for the source of the mysterious whistling she hears in her sleep, she finds a headboard in the attic that her great-grandfather, a medicine man, had made. Her parents take her to meet her great-great-uncle, Johnny Elk, in the North Carolina mountains, who tells her about her Cherokee heritage. He explains lore related to the animals and plants around his cabin in the woods. He tells Penny she has inherited the gift of seeing lights and hearing the whistling trees like the one used to make the headboard. The whistling comes from a legend about Woodpecker annoying the other creatures with his pecking until they realized that his holes in the trees created the whistling sound that "lifted their spirits and gave the birds and animals courage to survive the windstorm." The illustrations are realistic paintings with borders, some setting panels reflecting Penny's Cherokee heritage next to the modern story's scenes. The book is praised by Chief Wilma Mankiller on the dust jacket.

Pennington, Daniel. Itse Selu: Cherokee Harvest Festival. Illus. Don Stewart. Watertown, MA: Tailwinds/Charlesbridge, 1994. This book is recommended by Oyate.org.

Red Earth. Selu and Kana'Ti: Cherokee Corn Mother and Lucky Hunter. Greenvale, NY: Mondo, 1998.

Reed, Jeannie, ed. Stories of the Yunwi Tsunsdi': The Cherokee Little People. Cullowhee, NC: Western Carolina University, 1991. "A Western Carolina University English 102 class project."

Roop, Peter and Connie. Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves. Illus. Yoshi Miyake. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1992. 60 pp. This is historical fiction in six chapters with full-page black and white illustrations, about Ahyoka helping her father Sequoyah, as he figures out how to create the Cherokee syllabary. As the story begins, father and daughter are trying to create a symbol for every word but that is too difficult. He retells his story about learning while fighting with white men that they had "talking leaves" for sending messages back to their homes. As the Epilogue explains, very little is known about many of the facts of Sequoyah's life, but this story depicts his wife burning his papers and ending their marriage because he is not supporting the family while concentrating so hard on trying to develop a language. Ahyokah trades her beautiful silver bracelet her father made for a book he wants, but they do not know what the letters in the book mean. Ahyokah runs away to go with him when he travels west from northern Alabama after the cabin he was using in the woods is burned. Ahyokah is given credit for figuring out that the English alphabet must have a correspondence between symbols and sounds. Then they begin to develop the system that becomes the Cherokee syllabary, later reducing their symbols to 86 letters for syllables of the Cherokee language. The Epilogue tells of the influence of this invention.

Ross, Gayle. The First Fire. Little Celebrations series. Illus. Susan Swan. Glenview, IL: Celebration Press, 1996. "Tells the story of how the water spider got the round white mark on its back." 16 pp.

Ross, Gayle. How Turtle's Back Was Cracked: A Traditional Cherokee Tale. Illus. Murv Jacob. New York: Dial, 1995. Turtle is a braggart who thinks he has killed the wolf that chokes on the persimmons he and Possum are eating. He tricks angry wolves into throwing him in the river, where his shell is cracked. Ross developed her storytelling version from childhood memories and a written source. Source notes and background on the Cherokee nation are included. Short favorable review at Native American Books, Native American Indian Resources, web site by Paula Giese, 1996. See also AppLit bibliography on Gayle Ross.

Roth, Susan LKanahena: A Cherokee Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. A retelling of the traditional Cherokee tale of Terrapin the trickster. Possum shows Terrapin that it is possible to trick Bad Wolf into choking on the persimmons he steals, but Terrapin goes too far by taking Bad Wolf's ears to use for spoons as he eats kanahéna, or cornmeal mush, with friends. When the other wolves try to drown Terrapin, he tricks them into throwing them in the water where he knows he can save himself, but in the process his shell is cracked permanently. In 24 pages containing a spare inner narrative and collage illustrations, the little Cherokee girl in the brief frame story learns from her grandmother about the complex interactions of good and bad, natural and unnatural acts.

Roth, Susan L. The Story of Light. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1990. A pourquoi tale about how spider takes light in a clay pot from the sun on one side of the world to the animals on the other side. With striking black, white, and yellow collage illustrations.

Sargent, Dave, and Pat Sargent. Little One. Illus. Jane Lenoir. Story Keeper Series, 12. Prairie Grove, AR: Ozark Pub., 2004. "Beyond the End" by Sue Rogers. "A little Cherokee girl wanted to be big. Her wise mother guided her to do things she was old enough to do well, until ..." "A character development book."

Sigman, Margie. Grandmother Spider Steals the Sun: A Cherokee Tale. Illus. David Sheldon. Glenview, Ill: Pearson/Scott Foresman, 2013. 25 pp. Reading Street series, level 3.3.2. This book is a play script with seven scenes, illustrations, background on the Trail of Tears, and Reader Response questions. A chorus provides comments in verse. The colorful drawings show children in costumes, including Grandmother Spider carrying a pot she makes with the help of wasps. She takes a small piece of the sun after a fox, 'possum, and buzzard fail.

Sterne, Emma G. How Rabbit Stole Fire: A Cherokee Legend. Jack Ferguson. New York: Aladdin Books, 1954. "The legend of the audacious rabbit who stole fire from the privileged Medicine Man in order that all Cherokee Indians could have it."

Stewart, Colina C. Wild Flower. Illus. Jan Strock. Raleigh, NC: Pentland Press, 2000. 25 pp. A free-spirited Cherokee girl tells the story of how she earns an eagle feather for her bravery and what happens when she accepts the marriage proposal of a handsome Indian brave.

Stroud, Virginia A. The Path of the Quiet Elk: A Native American Alphabet Book. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1996. A Cherokee-Creek author-artist also draws on the culture of her Kiowa adopted family in this book about the spiritual walk of tribal elder Wisdom Keeper and the child Looks Within on the woodland Path of the Quiet Elk. "From the publisher: This lyrical alphabet book, drawn from Native American teachings, tells of twenty-six different ways to remember our interconnectedness with everything on the earth." Mixed review at Native American Books, Native American Indian Resources, web site by Paula Giese, 1996.

Stroud, Virginia A. A Walk to the Great Mystery. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1995. Two modern Cherokee children walk with their grandmother, a medicine woman, through the woods to explore the Great Mystery of the spirit of nature. Grandma Anna shows them that the mystery is around them and in them when they get close to rocks, plants, and trees. Two differing short reviews at Native American Books, Native American Indian Resources, web site by Paula Giese, 1996.

Tapper, Suzanne Cloud. The Cherokee: A Proud People. American Indian Series. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Elementary, 2005. 48 pp. Divided into chapters on history and many cultural topics, this book focuses on both present and past Cherokee life. Includes glossary, lists of resources, and index. Illustrated throughout with historical and contemporary photographs, timeline, and images of portraits and artworks.

Ugidali (Lee Piper). Stories from Ugidali: Cherokee Story Teller. Illus. Tanya Hargrove. Billings, Mont.: Council for Indian Education, 1981. 28 pp.

Underwood, Thomas B. Cherokee Legends and the Trail of Tears. Illus. Amanda Crowe. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1956. (23rd printing, 2002). Adapted from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Ten short tales with small colored drawings. The tales are "How the Earth was Made," "The Rattlesnake's Vengeance," "How The Milky Way Came To Be," "Why The Possum's Tail Is Bare," "Ataga'hi, The Magic Lake," "The Race Between The Crane and The Hummingbird," "Why The Buzzard's Head Is Bare," "Why The Mink Smells," "The Katydid's Warning," and "The First Fire." "Cherokee Indian Ball Game" tells the history of the game, not the animal tale. Also the John G. Burnett version of "Removal of the Cherokees 1838-39," an 1890 letter by a former Tennessee soldier, who had known many Cherokees, witnessed much brutality while serving as an interpreter on the Trail of Tears, and condemned the murder of innocents while praising the Cherokee leaders and victims. Background on the Cherokee Museum is given. The cover shows Stormy Weather, a picture telling a story of a quarreling man and woman.

Underwood, Thomas B. The Magic Lake: A Mystical Healing Lake of the Cherokee. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1982. 20 pp.

Walton, Darwin McBeth. Jetty's Journey to Freedom. Illus. Angelo. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 2003. 40 pp. "The year is 1864, and Jetty is a slave in North Carolina. Her owner sells her mother, and her brother disappears. Jetty knows it's time to leave, she knows it's time to begin her journey to freedom." She is helped by a Cherokee family. Study guide available at Houghton Mifflin web site.

Wheeler, Jill C. The Lame One: The Story of Sequoyah. Illus. Paul J. Deegan. Bloomington, MN: Abdo & Daughters, 1989. "Tells the story of the Cherokee leader, Sequoyah."

Wood, Francis Eugene. Wind Dancer's Flute. Illus. Judith N Ligon. Farmville, VA: Tip of the Moon Pub., 1998. The Tip of the Moon web site has information by and about the author and the book, with pictures and reviews. "The main character, Wind Dancer, is part Cherokee, part Irish, and a free-spirited lad who lives with his adopted mother, Sarah Ogle, and roams the great Smoky Mountains. A gifted flutist, Wind plays his music in the nearby village" until an evil man interferes. Wind's uncle and "mysterious little people, known as the Yunwi Tsunsdi," in "a sacred place," help his spirit recover. The author describes the book as being about racial intolerance, " the beauty in the free-spirited among us," and the power of forgiveness. The Legend of Chadega and the Weeping Tree is another tale by Wood for families about nature and Native American wisdom.

Yasuda, Anita. How the World Was Made: A Cherokee Creation Myth. Illus. Mark Pennington. Minneapolis, MN: Magic Wagon, 2013. "The Short Tales Myths explore the most famous tales in a simple writing style for young readers. The brilliant illustrations bring to life the legends of many Native American tribes. Cherokee myths and legends were an important way for customs, beliefs, and histories to be passed down orally through the generations. These myths often explain natural events. In this creation myth, the creation of Earth by the animals and insects is told."

For other collections of Cherokee tales, see books in bibliography of Appalachian Folktales in Collections.


See also AppLit's Bibliography of Appalachian Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults and Bibliography on Cherokee Language. Some of the folklore books above also give nonfiction background on Cherokee history and legends.

Aaseng, Nathan. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia: The Forced Removal of a People. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2000. 96 pp.  Describes the attempts to protect the rights of Cherokees living in Georgia beginning in the colonial period, including the landmark Supreme Court cases, Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia, and Worcester vs. Georgia (WorldCat).

Barrett, Tracy. The Trail of Tears: An American Tragedy. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning, 2000. 72 pp. Tells the story of the Cherokee Indians, from the Ice Age through the 20th Century (WorldCat).

Bennett, Doraine. Sequoyah. Georgia, My State Biographies. Fortson, GA: State Standards Pub., 2008. Contents: Sequoyah -- Talking Leaves -- A Cherokee Alphabet -- The Cherokees Learn -- Glossary (Worldcat).

Birchfield, D. L. The Trail of Tears. Milwaukee: World Almanac Library, 2004. 48 pp. Describes the history of the five tribes of Southeastern America: the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, especially their forcible removal in the 19th century to the Great Plains (WorldCat).

Brill, Marlene Targ. The Trail of Tears: The Cherokee Journey from Home. Spotlight on American History. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook, 1995. 64 pp. Eight chapters with photographs, a map, illustrations and documents from historical sources, chronology, bibliographies, index. Artworks include the painting Trail of Tears by Elizabeth Janes, 1939. Available as an electronic book through NetLibrary at http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=32368.

Bruchac, Joseph. Trail of Tears. Illus. Diana Magnuson. A Step 4 Step into Reading Book. (Grades 2-4). 48 pp. New York: Random House, 1999. This chapter book with many color illustrations, by one of the most distinguished Native American authors (Bruchac is Abenaki) follows the history of the Cherokee Nation from before the Trail of Tears into the present.

Burgan, Michael. The Trail of Tears. We the People Series. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2001. 48 pp. Includes illustrations (some color), bibliography and index. Recommended as informational book for younger students.

Chiltoskey, Mary Ulmer. Cherokee Words with Pictures. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1972. A dictionary of words, phrases, and names using the Cherokee syllabary and sepia drawings, with background on Cherokee history and language.

DeAngelis, Therese. The Cherokee: Native Basket Weavers. America's First Peoples Series. Mankato, Minn.: Blue Earth Books, 2003. 32 pp. "Discusses the Cherokee Indians, focusing on their tradition of weaving baskets. Includes a cookie recipe and instructions for playing a game and making a mat.. . . Contents: Baskets and mats -- Preparing river cane -- After the Trail of Tears -- Making the baskets -- A basket for everything -- Upside-down baskets -- Cherokee village life -- The Cherokee today" (WorldCat).

Fitterer, C. Ann. Sequoyah: Native American Scholar. Our People series. Chanhassen, Minn.: Child's World, 2003 32 pp. illustrations (some color). "Primary school. ... A brief introduction to the life of the Cherokee Indian who created a method for his people to write and read their own language" (WorldCat).

Harrell, Sara Gordon. John Ross. The Story of an American Indian Series. Minneapolis: Dillon Press, 1979. 62 pp. "A biography of the Cherokee chief who led his people for more than 40 years, first in an effort to keep their homeland, and later through their greatest trial when they were forced to go west by the United States government" (WorldCat).

Hirschfield, Laura. Cherokee Heroes: Three Who Made a Difference. Bothell, WA: Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, 2001. 32 pp. Illustrations (some color), maps. Biographies of Sequoyah (1770?-1843), Nancy Ward (d. 1822), and Chief Wilma Pearl Mankiller (Oklahoma, 1945- ). Includes index.

Hoyt-Goldsmith, Diane. Cherokee Summer = Cwy ay. Photographs by Lawrence Migdale. New York: Holiday House, 1993. 32 pp. The book is narrated by a ten-year-old Oklahoma Cherokee girl, who tells of the Trail of Tears and Cherokee life since then. Lisa Mitten in School Library Journal called this one of a "fine series of photo essays of Native American children."

Johnston, Tony. Trail of Tears. Illus. Barry Moser. New York: Blue Sky Press, 1998. "Synopsis: When soldiers force them to leave their village, the Indian people endure suffering and death as they walk along the route which comes to be known as the Trail of Tears."

Lepthien, Emilie U. The Cherokee. A New True Book Series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1985. 45 pp. Color illus. "Describes the customs, ways of life, and history of the Cherokee Nation, from its earliest days to the present" (WorldCat).

Lowe, Felix C. John Ross. Illus. Patrick Soper. Milwaukee: Raintree Publishers,1990. 32 pp. Color illustrations. "Discusses the Cherokee chief who fought unsuccessfully to protect the land of his people, until they were forced to march along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma" (WorldCat).

McAmis, Herb. The Cherokee. Indian Nations Series. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2000. 48 pp. Illustrations (some color). "Abstract: Tells about the history and culture of the Cherokee, explains how European explorers affected the society of this Indian people, and looks into their future" (WorldCat).

McCall, Barbara A. The Cherokee. Native American People. Illus. Luciano Lazzarino. Vero Beach, Fla: Rourke Publications, 1989. "Examines the history, traditional lifestyle, and current situation of the Cherokee Indian" (Worldcat).

Oppenheim, Joanne F. Sequoyah: Cherokee Hero. Illus. Bert Dodson. Mahwah, NJ: Troll Communications, 1979. 43 pp. Biography.

Press, Petra. The Cherokee. First Reports Series. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2002. 48 pp. Illustrations (some color). For primary grades. "Contents: Who are the Cherokee? - Life before the Europeans - The importance of harmony - Contact with the first Europeans - Guns and bloody wars - Losing their land to the colonists - Still more treaties - The five civilized tribes - The Trail of Tears - More broken promises - Refugees in their own land - Self-determination - Into the twenty-first century - Words to know" (WorldCat). Includes bibliography and index.

Reed, Marcelina. Seven Clans of the Cherokee Society. Illus. William Taylor. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1993. 32 pp. Many aspects of traditional Cherokee life and history are explained in relation to the social structure of the seven clans (Paint, Wolf, Deer, Long Hair, Wild Potato, Blue, and Bird) and other areas where the number seven is important, such as the seven festivals. With full-page illustrations for each clan as well as smaller drawings. The matrilineal nature of Cherokee society is explained, including issues of paternity and how marriages were ended in the past. With a list of suggested readings.

Roop, Peter and Connie. . . . If You Lived With the Cherokee. Illus. Kevin Smith. New York: Scholastic, 1998. 79 pp. Marketed for grades 3-5. Includes a timeline, map, copy of the Cherokee syllabary, and Introduction. One of a series of historical picture books that use a question and answer format to explain the lives of girls, boys, and adults in the past. This one focuses primarily on life in Cherokee villages before Europeans spread into Cherokee lands, but it also discusses cultural changes brought by trade and conflict with Europeans, Sequoyah's development of writing, the Trail of Tears, and modern life. The middle of the book describes many aspects of Cherokee homes, families, villages, games, work, and culture in the eighteenth century. Although both boys and girls are addressed, there is more space devoted to male activities than female.

Rumford, James. Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing. Transl. Anna Sixkiller Huckaby. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Picture book with parallel texts in English and Cherokee language, including the Cherokee syllabary. An Honor Book for the 2005 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, American Library Association. With art by Rumford of mixed-media compositions in deep shades and bold lines. This book is recommended in a review by Beverly Slapin, posted Nov. 8, 2006 on Debbie Reese's web site American Indians in Children's Literature.

Santella, Andrew. The Cherokee. A True Book. New York: Children's Press/Scholastic, 2001. 47 pp. A nonfiction book for young readers by a Chicago author, with photographs and old illustrations (a 16th-century Indian town, portraits of famous chiefs, etc.), maps, word list, references, and index. An overview of Cherokee life and history, ancient and recent. Less detailed but with more interesting pictures than the book by the Roops, above.

Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. The Cherokees: A First Americans Book. Illus. Ronald Himler. New York: Holiday House, 1996. Description at Cherokee Publications: "All about the Cherokee for the young student. Recounts the Cherokee's creation myth, the tribe's structure, history, social life, arts and crafts, ceremonies, and situation today. Beautiful color paintings dignify the life and spirit of the Cherokee." This and other books by Sneve are recommended by Debbie Reese, a member of Nambe Pueblo, in northern New Mexico, and expert on American Indians in Children's Literature (see Reese's blog list of Recommended Children's/YA/Reference/Resource Books).

Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk, ed. Enduring Wisdom: Sayings from Native Americans. Illus. Synthia Saint James. New York: Holiday House, 2003. Quotations, many handed down orally, from many kinds of people in different tribes. There is one quotation by Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller. Brief notes on sources and background are given. The illustrator is of Cherokee and African American descent. The paintings are not portraits but simplified human figures and designs in bright blocks of color.

Stein, R Conrad. The Trail of Tears. Cornerstones of Freedom Series. Revised ed. Chicago: Children's Press, 1993. 30 pp. Illustrations (some color) and maps, including historic and contemporary artwork. "Describes the Federal government's seizure of Cherokee lands in Georgia and the forced migration of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma" (WorldCat).

Underwood, Thomas B. The Story of the Cherokee People. Illus. Jacob Anchutin. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1996. 48 pp. "From the Publisher: A short history, from ancient times to modern day, of the eastern Cherokee tribe. Includes an account of the forced removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma which became known as 'The Trail of Tears.'" See more Cherokee history by Underwood in Cherokee Legends and the Trail of Tears, above.

Waxman, Laura Hamilton. Sequoyah. History Maker Bios Series. Illus. Tim Parlin. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004. A small illustrated chapter book with old and new illustrations, photographs, maps, a timeline, and references.

Wheeler, Jill. The Lame One: The Story of Sequoyah. Famous American Indian Leaders. Illus. Liz Dodson. Abdo & Daughters,1989. 32 pp. Marketed for ages 9-12.

Page created August 2002. Last update: 11/25/18
Links checked 6/27/09

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