‘At the Mountain’s Base’ to be released as audiobook
The 2019 book “At the Mountain’s Base” by Cherokee author Traci Sorell is being produced as an audiobook, available in December. COURTESY
Colville/Salish-Kootenai/Cherokee actor Kimberly Guerrero, known for her role as Wilma Mankiller in the film “Cherokee Word for Water” reads for the audiobook “At the Mountain’s Base.” COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee author Traci Sorell’s 2019 picture book “At the Mountain’s Base” is being produced into an audiobook and read by Colville/Salish-Kootenai/ Cherokee actor Kimberly Guerrero.
It tells of a Cherokee family awaiting the return of their kin serving as a pilot during World War II. Its afterword summarizes the achievements of Native women in the armed forces and mentions the military career of Ola Mildred Rexroat, a Lakota pilot who served in World War II and the Korean War.
The book’s publisher, Namrata Tripathi, of Penguin Random House, initiated the idea for the audiobook.
“She said we want to do an audiobook because I just had my first book, ‘Otsaliheliga,’ win a bunch of awards for the audiobook,” Sorell said.
The “Otsaliheliga” audiobook, read by Sorell and other Cherokees such as Lauren Hummingbird, Choogie Mackey, Ryan Mackey and Tonia Hogner-Weavel, won the 2020 Odyssey Honor and 2020 American Library Association Notable Children’s Recording Award.
“I get this email and I was like awesome because a lot of time picture books aren’t audiobook candidates,” Sorell said. “It tends to be obviously longer works like middle grades novels for the 8- to 12-year-olds or your young adult novels 13 to 17. So I was thrilled.”
Sorell said she wanted “someone that’s Cherokee” to read the audiobook, and Guerrero’s name came from producer Linda Korn of Penguin’s Listening Library.
“I was like if you can get Kimberly that would be fantastic because I really enjoyed her performance in the ‘Cherokee Word for Water,’” Sorell said. “She’s just good people. So when I heard back from her that Kimberly agreed to do it, I was like this is absolutely fantastic. I’m excited to seen what they have created.”
Guerrero, a native Oklahoman, has a career in entertainment as an actor and has worked with tribal communities in North American as an advocate for personal and community wellness.
“They sent the book and I just loved it,” Guerrero said. “I was like absolutely, I would love to work on this project. Then it was just a matter of setting everything up and doing the research.”
Guerrero said she researched the inspiration for the book – Native women who served in the military.
“They sent some really great research, kind of behind the book and about Native women warriors that served and are serving in our military, which I was familiar with but I found out even a lot more when I did the research,” she said. “It was neat reading about some stories, actual stories, of people and, of course, the character that Traci might have drawn on, the pilot in World War II.”
Guerrero said she wanted to bring a “warm and inviting” tone to the reading and the book’s message.
“The book and the poem have such a wonderful message, and it’s very deep and also very simple. Sometimes simple things, if you don’t give them the weight they deserve they can just be passed over,” Guerrero said. “Traci wrote this beautiful story and then the illustrations really helped. I looked at the illustration and the colors and the texture and that really helped bring everything to life as well.”
The audiobook will be released on Dec. 8. for $7 and can be downloaded from Libro.fm, Audible, Google Play Store, audiobooks.com